Firefighters tackled 100 gorse fires in Mid and East Antrim

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Firefighters have dealt with almost 100 gorse fires in the past month in Mid and East Antrim Council area.

As temperatures soared, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue service responded to a total 98 gorse/grassland related incidents between June 9 and July 9 in the borough.

The figures were released as appeals were made for the public to be vigilant for wildfires.

At the weekend, Carrickfergus PSNI issued a warning over reports of youths lighting fires in the vicinity of dams in Carrickfergus.

PSNI Inspector Simpson said: “It hasn’t rained in weeks and our firefighters have enough to contend with, what with the number of gorse fires and the up coming 11th July.

“Have a word with yourself and don’t burn the place down.”

NIFRS said they did not attend any gorse fires in the dams area over the weekend. However, last month crews spent several days dealing with one at Knockagh escarpment, above Greenisland, which at the time was thought to have been started deliberately.

Appealing for people to heed fire safety advice, NIFRS Group Commander Mark Smyth said: “Tackling gorse and wildland fires is extremely challenging for us. It means deploying firefighters and equipment to remote locations. This can be for a prolonged period of time with our crews working under hazardous and intense heat to bring the fires under control. These fires can easily spread and even a slight change in wind direction can pose a serious risk to life, property and the environment.”

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) echoed these sentiments. DAERA said: “Fires can take hold and spread quickly on dry ground, with potentially devastating consequences. Given the risk, those living and working in rural communities, particularly in isolated areas, are asked to remain vigilant.”