NI firefighters warn wildfires take up vital resources

The NI Fire & Rescue Service has been tackling a number of gorse and grass fires over the weekend. Credit: Pacemaker

Firefighters are again urging people not to risk starting fires in the countryside that could result in a blaze that draws on vital resources.

Wildfires have been an issue in multiple areas across Northern Ireland, with the recent hot weather adding to the problem.

Even a small spark can ignite a major fire on dry gorse or grass covered land.

One of the latest fires, in the Duncrue Crescent area of north Belfast, has been causing large plumes of smoke to billow across parts of the city.

Smoke from a fire in north Belfast can be seen for miles. Credit: Presseye

Local Sinn Féin MP John Finucane said he had been in touch with police, who advised it was a gorse fire that had been extinguished.

However, the fire has since reignited and emergency services remain at the scene to try to bring the situation under control.

Smoke drifts across the M2 in Belfast. Credit: Presseye

The PSNI said residents in north and west Belfast were advised to keep their windows closed.

It comes after firefighters had to battle a blaze in the Belfast Hills late on Saturday night.

Firefighters at the scene of the fire in north Belfast. Credit: Pacemaker

Posting on social media, the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service reminded people: “Our firefighters are ready to tackle wildfires if we have to, but these fires draw our resources away from where they’re needed the most.

“Support your firefighters by not starting fires in the countryside.”

Since Friday morning, 729 calls were made to NIFRS, resulting in a response to 396 incidents across Northern Ireland.

Of those, 134 involved grass and wildfire.

A spokesperson said: “This has been an exceptionally busy spring period for fire crews who have worked hard in tough conditions to extinguish these wildfires.

"Due to the recent hot weather, grass and gorse is extremely dry and NIFRS would appeal to members of the public not to light small fires or disposable barbecues as these can lead to significant wildfire incidents and damage to the countryside.”