Fire crews tackle more than 500 wildfires in April

17 May 2020

Published by https://www.bbc.com

UK (N.IRELAND) Fire crews in Northern Ireland dealt with more than 500 wildfire or gorse-related fires over April.

That is according to Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS), which appealed to people to stop lighting fires in the countryside.

It comes after firefighters battled a “significant” wildfire incident in County Down that had been ongoing for more than 24 hours.

It has since been brought under control.

The blaze in Castlewellan, County Down, broke out at about 13:30 BST on Friday on the Leitrim Road.

Mark Smyth, NIFRS area commander, said the fire front has been extinguished.

“The crews will be there for quite a few hours today just mopping up and putting plenty of water on it, hopefully to stop any reignition,” he told BBC News NI.

Almost 50 Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) personnel attended, including seven pumping appliances and specialist teams.

NIFRS had appealed for people to stay away, but the Leitrim Road has since reopened.

Officers from NIFRS’ specialist wildfire team, high volume pump and specialist rescue teams all attended the scene.

Mr Smyth said that people need to stop lighting fires in the countryside.

“We’ve had over five hundred incidents of wildfire, gorse-related vegetation-type fires across Northern Ireland. I would say that’s probably … two to three times busier than any other Aprils we’ve had.”

Mr Smyth said most wildfires in Northern Ireland are “human made”.

“We don’t have really natural wildfires in Northern Ireland. We normally have human intervention. I look at them being deliberate in that someone has actually deliberately lit a fire but sometimes it’s then accidental or malicious after it being deliberate.

“It’s accidental that they’ve lit a fire and it’s got away from them and away it goes. They’re burning maybe some cut down vegetation at the end of the season and away it goes or there’s sometimes that malicious side of being a deliberate fire where someone’s just determined to light a fire and basically I see that as countryside vandalism.”

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