Appeal for vigilance over spate of gorse fires

Fire at Craigavon last night
Fire at Craigavon last night

Firefighters in Lurgan dealt with 34 deliberate gorse fires in the space of a week - making it one of the two busiest in the province.

Indeed the 34 deliberate fires made up the lion’s share of a total of 41 gorse fires dealt with by the local station.

In Portadown crews dealt with nine gorse fires, four of them deliberate.

Provincewide since Monday, May 1, to Sunday, May 8, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has attended 511 gorse fires of which 466 were started deliberately.

The majority of these incidents (407) occurred in either the Southern (245) or Western (162) Area Commands. Downpatrick and Lurgan have been the busiest stations with 46 and 41 incidents respectively.

NIFRS is reminding everyone that dealing with these types of incidents puts not only Firefighters’ lives at risk but the lives of everyone in the local community and puts additional pressure on operational resources.

Area Commander Maurice Rafferty added: “We are appealing to everyone within the community to remain vigilant when in the countryside.

“If you see a fire report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Don’t attempt to tackle fires and leave the area as soon as possible.

“Deliberate fire setting has major consequences - it ties up our vital resources from other more serious incidents and potentially puts people and property at risk.

“These fires can easily spread and even a slight change in wind direction can pose a serious risk to life, property and the environment. If anyone has any information in relation to fire setting we would urge them to contact the PSNI.

“I would like to thank our Crews who have worked under extremely hazardous conditions and intense heat to bring the fires under control.”