Northern Ireland

PSNI appeal after more than 200 deliberate gorse fires

Fires on Cuilcagh mountain
Image caption There were fires on Cuilcagh mountain on Saturday but the cause has not yet been confirmed

The police have warned that lives are being put at risk after a spate of more than 200 deliberate gorse fires across Northern Ireland since Monday.

They appealed to those involved in setting wild fires to "consider the possible consequences" for communities.

The PSNI warning was issued after a deliberate gorse fire threatened houses in Newry, County Down, overnight.

On Saturday, there were a number of fires near Florencecourt, County Fermanagh.

Fire crews were called to Gortalughany Viewpoint, near the Marble Arch Caves at around midnight, and they were called out again to the same area on Saturday afternoon.

Smoke could be seen billowing over Cuilcagh Mountain at the time.

The cause of the latest incidents has not yet been confirmed, but fire crews said on Friday night that more than 90% of the gorse fires they have been dealing with since Monday were deliberate.

PSNI Supt Emma Bond said: "Gorse fires have the potential to cause widespread damage to the environment and harm to wildlife, as well as threatening homes, farms and the people living in those areas.

"The unpredictability of fire can also mean that those setting them may be putting their own lives at risk as well as the lives of the fire service personnel and other emergency services tasked to deal with them.

"There can also be untold consequences to tying up crucial emergency resources that may be needed elsewhere."

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