Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland gorse fire on mountain started deliberately

Blaze linked to anti-social behaviour in the Mournes

By Stewart Robson

A gorse blaze that ripped through 10 acres of land in Co Down was started deliberately, the Fire Service believes.

The fire at Drinnahilly Mountain near Tollymore Forest Park, close to Newcastle, broke out on Wednesday.

More than 60 firefighters are involved in the operation.

An appeal has been made to people to stay away from the area for safety reasons.

The outbreak was contained overnight, and a small number of crew remained at the scene yesterday morning.

The Fire Service said: "Five appliances, the specialist rescue team and specialist wildfire officers are currently at the scene."

Firefighters are working in co-operation with the Forest Service.

Despite having the situation under control, there are concerns the fire could end up spreading.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs said some roads were now inaccessible to the public.

"All way-marked trails and forest roads past the Shimna River are closed to public access until further notice," it said.

"The public should also be aware of additional emergency services and forestry vehicle traffic throughout Tollymore Forest Park."

Thick smoke filled the air in the Drinnahilly area, with people saying they could "taste the ashes".

Others described how the smoke had caused haze-like conditions in the area. DUP councillor Glyn Hanna said that there has been concern in the area recently because of anti-social behaviour.

He added: "It was a substantial fire.

"I know there's a lot of problems in the Mournes at the minute with young people just running about and they don't know what to be at.

"The parents need to take their responsibilities with their children seriously.

"I know it's the summertime, but they do need to know what their children are at.

"At the end of the day, if their children are causing all sorts of problems, we all suffer for it."

Rain is forecast in the area over the coming days, with heavy downpours expected in the latter stages of the weekend.

It is the second blaze the Fire Service has had to deal with in the area in the last week.

Belfast Telegraph

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