Warnings that fires in Ireland’s mountains could cost lives – VIDEO
Outbreak of fires and damage to Irish wildlife races concern ahead of summer
Sinn Fein councilor, Pat McGinn, has warned that lives in Northern Ireland are being put in danger by the gorse fire in the mountains of County Antrim. Meanwhile a fire also broke out in the Wicklow Mountains in the Republic.
On Wednesday firefighters in Northern Ireland began tackling two large fires – one at at Camlough Mountain and another at Mallaboy Lane, Dunloy.
As six fire engines battled the fire it continued to spread. It took crews 45 minutes to reach the blaze on foot.
McGinn told the BBC that over the last 12 months $12.7 million (£8m) was spent on tackling fires.
He said "These reckless actions are putting lives at risk.
"If it is proved to be the case that this mountain fire has been started deliberately, those behind them must stop and do so immediately.
"Many homes are at risk of these fires and as the emergency services are already at breaking point these may be left vulnerable."
The fires pose a threat to hillwalkers, animals and the wildlife.
Brian Wilson from the Northern Ireland Forestry Service said "We don't have a big resources now and for them to be needlessly fighting fires when we are trying to provide outdoor areas and putting a lot of money into forests for everyone to use... for these to be burnt is disappointing."
In the South a fire broke out in an area of gorse bush on the Little Sugar Loaf Mountain, near Kilmacanogue, in County Wicklow, on Thursday night. Three engines were dispatched by the Dublin Fire Brigade control room.
The Irish Forestry and Forest Products Association called on all landowners and rural communities to come together to prevent “destructive, and sometimes deadly, land fires”.
Since January 40 gorse fires have been reported in County Kerry and there was increasing concern in the current dry spell. The Irish Times reports that some 3,000 hectares of forestry had been lost over the last two years to wildfires.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer, in the Antrim area, Dale Ashford said “I would appeal to the community to help us to try to prevent these things happening.
"This type of fire does create a drain on our resources and does require us to be working at fairly large incidents for a long period of time.
"Some people don't understand the consequences of what they do. Aside from the danger to the public, there's a danger to the firefighters sent out to deal with these incidents and then there's the affect it has on the environment."
YouTube raw footage of the fire in Wicklow:
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