24 April 2021 – 7.50 pm
Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) is continuing to tackle the ongoing major incident in the Mourne Mountains with support of multi-agency partners.
This has included the use of Coastguard Helicopters to achieve an aerial view of the fire, inform tactical Firefighting decisions and transport Firefighters to remote locations to tackle the fire.
Over 100 Firefighters and 12 Fire Appliances from right across Northern Ireland are tackling the blaze for the second day. A major incident was declared earlier today and Firefighters will remain on the mountain until the end of day. The incident is likely to continue into tomorrow.
With the landscape ripe for fires to take hold, the public are being reminded to play their part in supporting Firefighters by staying away from the area, staying safe and being extra fire aware at this time, in particular in the countryside.
Aidan Jennings, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer said:
“The use of the helicopters has allowed us to get a good aerial view of the fire spread, to inform our tactical firefighting approach and plan our resource deployments for tomorrow. It has also been invaluable in helping us move Firefighters into remote and difficult to reach positions to tackle the fire.
“We are working closely with many partner agencies at the scene and this support has been invaluable. This is truly a multi-agency effort to bring this fire under control.
“We are making good progress however it’s been a challenging and exhausting day for everyone involved. Every Firefighter on the Mountain has been working exceptionally hard and I want to pay tribute to them. They have had to work in intense heat, carrying equipment and they have been physically beating fires out. They have witnessed first-hand the devastation on the mountain yet they are heartened by the support of our local community and the generosity in providing refreshments.
“I’d also pay testament to many others across the organisation, working tirelessly behind the scenes, to support the operational response including our personnel in our Regional Control Centre.
“The warm weather is expected to continue over the coming days and the conditions will be perfect for wildfires to start and spread quickly. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we all do our bit to prevent these fires from happening in the first place.
“I am asking the public to help us, help them at this time. Please follow the advice and stay away from the immediate area. I want to reassure everyone that we have put contingency measures in place and if you need us in an emergency we will respond. However, I am asking everyone to be extra fire aware at this time both in your home and in particular in the countryside.”
NIFRS is reminding everyone of the following safety advice:
* Extinguish cigarettes and other smoking materials properly.
* Never throw cigarette ends out of car windows.
* Only use barbecues in designated and safe areas and never leave them unattended. Keep children and ball games away from barbecues.
* Ensure that barbecues are fully extinguished and cold before disposing of their contents.
* Avoid using open fires in the countryside.
* Do not leave bottles or glass in woodlands. Sunlight shining through glass can start a fire. Take them home or put them in a waste or recycling bin.
* If you see a fire in the countryside, report it immediately to the Fire & Rescue Service. Don’t attempt to tackle fires that will take more than a bucket of water to put out. Leave the area as soon as possible.
* Report any suspicious behaviour to the Police.