Pictured: Mourne Mountains fire brought under control
A caravan park was evacuated last night as dozens of firefighters battled a major gorse fire in the Mourne Mountains.
More than 50 of them were involved in the emergency operation close to Tullybrannigan Road near Tollymore Forest Park.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said eight fire appliances and a water tanker had been scrambled to the area to tackle the blaze.
On Monday morning a NIFRS spokesperson confirmed that the fire had now been "brought under control".
Guests at the nearby Bonny's Caravan Park had been evacuated, but have now been allowed to return to the site.
Residents living at Tullybrannigan Road were also forced to evacuate.
Sinn Féin South Down MP Chris Hazzard said: “The large wildfire in Tollymore Forest Park was over a mile long and took more than 50 firefighters to bring it under control.
“200 people had to be evacuated from a nearby caravan park where they were staying for the Easter holidays and I’m sure it must have been a terrifying experience for them.
“I’d like to commend the efforts of the firefighters and the Fire and Rescue Service for their work in tackling this blaze and thankfully no one was injured.
“Efforts will now be underway to determine the cause of the blaze and I’d like to remind everyone to behave responsibly while using the forest park in order to protect the environment and the everyone’s safety.”
On Sunday evening NIFRS commander Brian Stanfield said it was a "significant wildfire, with a fire-front of approximately a mile. We expect to be there for quite some time to come".
He said his staff were protecting houses lying in the path of the blaze.
Local councillor Glyn Hanna described the mountainside fire as "massive". "I haven't seen as big a fire in that part of the Mournes for a long time," he said.
Anti-social behaviour is often behind gorse fires in the area, the DUP representative said.
"I hope it's not anti-social behaviour. There are a lot of young people about in Newcastle just at the minute."
Emergency services are currently at the scene of a large fire at Tollymore Forest in Newcastle. Police are asking members of the public to avoid the Tullybrannigan Road and Bonny’s Caravan Park. Anyone already at the caravan park should leave immediately.— Police Service NI (@PoliceServiceNI) April 21, 2019
This is what it's looking like from Bonny's Caravan Park now. Constant sirens, but the Fire Service seem to be getting it under control. pic.twitter.com/SPAcIiW2xn— Emma Marley (@emmamarley) April 21, 2019
Belfast Telegraph Digital