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Public urged to stay safe as Mournes gorse fire rages

Firefighters tackling a massive gorse fire in the Mourne Mountains have warned the public to stay safe this weekend.

As Newcastle residents have shared images online showing the shocking scale of the blaze, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service urged the public to avoid the Glen River and Bloody Bridge access points this weekend.

This is due to the ongoing nature of the fire and the potential for it to spread further in the extremely dry conditions.

NIFRS also highlighted the unsuitability for wild camping this weekend due to the dangerous environment.

The statement added: "We would ask the public to exercise due care and vigilance in relation to fire safety if out in the countryside during this current dry spell."

Mourne Mountains Wildfire Public Message Firefighters are currently dealing with a large gorse fire in the Slieve...

Posted by Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service on Friday, April 23, 2021

Many others were in disbelief at witnessing one of the largest gorse fires in the area in recent memory.

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An image taken by Patrick Corrigan also showed the scale of the flames, with a ring of fire surrounding Slieve Donard.

Sinn Fein's MP for South Down, Chris Hazzard, praised firefighters for their ongoing efforts.

“More than 60 firefighters have been fighting a large blaze which started earlier today close to Bloody Bridge but has spread ferociously towards Donard Forest and Newcastle tonight," he said.

“I commend the Herculean efforts and courage of all those currently engaged in tackling this blaze.

“I appeal to motorists and local people not involved in the efforts to put out this fire to avoid the Bloody Bridge/Donard Forest area at all costs tonight and allow fire and rescue services the space to extinguish this fire safely.

“Whether accidental or deliberate, wildfires are incredibly dangerous. Today’s fire will have caused widespread damage to an environmentally sensitive area, and will also unfortunately have proven deadly for local wildlife.

“This is yet another stark reminder that everyone must behave responsibly while visiting the Mournes in order to protect the environment and the safety of our local community.”

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