Irish-American firefighter Patrick Joyce of the Yonkers Fire Department died in the line of duty

Firefighters in Northern Ireland have had to contend with over 755 wildfires over the last four days.

Dangerous and deliberate arson attacks and unseasonably dry weather have created an unprecedented situation, with hundreds of scorched acres, threatening homes and livestock over the weekend.

One of the hardest hit areas is located near Ballycastle, County Antrim which saw 40 firefighters dealing with widespread gorse fires.

Area Commander Harry Smyth told Ulster Television that the fire, which began over the weekend, now covers 700-800 acres.

"Sadly, we've had that many gorse fires this week they [firefighters] have been out every day," Smyth told UTV.

With little or no access to water mains the firefighters faced a three-mile trek through rough terrain before reaching the fire's edge.

"All they can do it beat it out with shovels and beaters which is quite arduous," Smyth said. "The difficulty with strong winds is that they can re-ignite very quickly. A gorse fire can spread very quickly - you need to see it to believe it."

"It is disappointing to reiterate that many of these fires have been started deliberately - which is not only putting a strain on NIFRS resources, but may endanger lives," Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) Assistant Chief Fire Officer Dale Ashford told UTV.

According to officials, Sunday was the busiest day ever faced by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

Malicious fires have also been set across the border in County Donegal, with fire fighting operations being focused in Dungloe, where gorse fires were set deliberately over the past week.