Fire fighters tackle ‘deliberate’ gorse fires

Gorse fire near Belleek

Gorse fire near Belleek

FIREFGHTERS in the county, and across the border, are being stretched to the limit coping with huge gorse fires which were started deliberately.

Near Belleek, just before 2 o’clock on Monday afternoon, 45 firefighters supported by relief crews were pinned down for eight hours fighting a fire that spanned an area measuring 4km x 4km and was fanned by high winds.


A spokesman said the fire front was about 2,000 metres long.

“Firefighters prevented the fire spreading to nearby properties. The local crews were assisted by colleagues in the Northern Ireland Forest Service and two appliances from Donegal Fire Service. The fire was dealt with at 10.44pm, with one appliance remaining at the scene as a precautionary measure until 12.30pm yesterday, Tuesday 9 April.”

The spokesman said this fire and an earlier one on Topped Mountain, near Enniskillen, were being treated as deliberate.

The blaze on Topped Mountain, on Saturday last, extended to 1,000 metres across and occupied 40 fire fighters down for four hours.

In this case, the call was logged at just after 1 o’clock on Saturday and, here too, eight fire appliances attended.

The fire involved 50-60 acres of gorse and, at one stage, a fire front stretched 1,000 metres across. It involved about 40 fire fighters, of whom 20 were using ‘beaters’ to beat out the fire.”

The spokesman said the fire was finally extinguished at 5.05pm, about four hours later.


The spokesman added: “The report from the scene makes no mention of homes at risk, but it does mention that the fire was approaching mature trees in a forest which firefighters were able to save.”

In the first seven days of this month, firefighters in Fermanagh received 59 calls, and, across the north, 548 gorse fire calls were logged.

Alarmed by these figures, the Northern Ireland Fire Service is warning people to think about the consequences of deliberate fire setting.

Despite the fact that, over the past three years, there has been a 75% decrease in the number of gorse fires, the Fire & Rescue Service say there is no room for complacency.

“With the upsurge in gorse fire-related call outs last week, we are appealing for people, especially young people, to be aware of the very serious consequences that deliberate fire setting in the countryside can have on the whole community.”

They have asked members of the public if they see a fire in the countryside, to report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service, and, also, report any suspicious behaviour to the Police.

Meanwhile, the local SDLP representative for Belleek John Coyle has condemned those behind the lighting of a gorse fire in the Belleek area.

“It destroyed a large area of flora and fauna. The area affected is part of the Pettigo Plateau which is a beautiful nature reserve and a real asset to the local landscape.

“Those behind this fire have displayed a reckless attitude towards human life by putting into jeopardy the lives of residents living nearby as well as their homes.”

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