• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

Avoid the area: Fire in Slieve Donard has been ongoing since Friday morning

Apr 24, 2021

Firefighters are battling a huge gorse fire spreading across the Mourne Mountains.
Up to 60 firefighters and 12 appliances are at the scene in Co Down.
The fire in the Slieve Donard area has been ongoing since the early hours of Friday morning.
In a statement, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said: Firefighters are currently dealing with a large gorse fire in the Slieve Donard area of the Northern Mournes.
We would request that the public avoid the Glen River and Bloody Bridge River access points this weekend due to the ongoing incident and potential for further fires in the extremely dry conditions.
NIFRS would like to highlight the unsuitability for wild camping in these areas this weekend due to current fire conditions.
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.
SDLP MLA Colin McGrath said Fridays wildfire in the Mournes highlighted the need to develop an all-island strategy to address the matter.
With courageous fire crews tackling the blaze from early Friday morning there was a hope that the fire could be contained, he added.
However, with some light winds it unfortunately managed to spread down the eastern slope of Leganabruchan and eventually into Donard Forest in Newcastle.
By the afternoon of Friday there were some 60 brave firefighters doing their best to maintain the blaze, with the smoke visible from as far away as Downpatrick.
I pay tribute to their bravery and determination. Sadly, this will not only have a devastating impact on the natural landscape but the local economy of Newcastle that relies so heavily on the tourist product we associate with the Mournes.
Having met with the NIFRS it is clear that they are doing everything they can to combat these blazes.
However, the issue of gorse and wildfires is something that affects our entire island and our response to it cannot just be a reaction to every outbreak of fire but a measured response that attempts to understand why these fires are happening so often and ultimately to prevent them.
That over the last four years we have had three years with continuous fires tells me we need to act now for the health and wellbeing of all our people. PA