Northern Ireland

NI gorse fires cost: £8m spent so far this year

Gorse fires
Image caption Gorse fires across Northern Ireland have destroyed hundreds of acres of land this year

The fire service has spent more than £8m on battling gorse fires so far this year, according to new figures.

The highest expenditure was in the Mournes area and West Tyrone where deliberately set fires raged for several days last month.

The statistics were released by the minister responsible for the fire service, Edwin Poots.

The cost of battling deliberately lit fires in the past three financial years is more than £28m.

At one stage during the first bank holiday weekend in May, the fire service said it was receiving a call every 45 seconds, the busiest period in its history.

Land in the Mournes, Ballycastle and Gortin in County Tyrone was worst affected with hundreds of acres badly damaged.

In total, the fire service attended 3,177 gorse fires in Northern Ireland between 1 January and 12 June.

For the last three financial years, the total number of deliberately set fires is 10,923.

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