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16-year-old arrested in connection with Snowdonia mountain fire

Credit: Chris McPhail

A 16-year-old teenager has been arrested in connection with the Snowdonia mountain fire which forced families out of their homes.

North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said officers were called out shortly before 8:30pm on Monday to the fire, which started at Llechwedd slate quarry.

South Wales Police said a local teenager has been arrested on suspicion of an aggravated offence of Arson, Causing a Public Nuisance and assaulting a Police Officer, and is currently being questioned at Caernarfon Police station.

The fire forced families out of their homes a 30 firefighters tackled the blaze. Firefighters were still tackling the remaining hotspots more than 16 hours after the fire started.

Deliberate grass fires put lives in danger – this incident tied up valuable resources for a considerable length of time, putting not only our firefighters but also local residents at risk. Deliberate grass fires can severely damage our countryside and our environment, destroy wildlife and livestock and cost the Welsh economy millions of pounds each year. We are working closely with our Police colleagues to catch those who deliberately set fires and will support prosecutions.

– Gavin Roberts, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service

People were urged to avoid the area as twenty homes were evacuated, forcing many residents to spend the night in a cafe - they have since returned home.

Witnesses said the mountain looked like a 'volcano' when the fire broke out.

As I was driving up I could just see the glow and a load of smoke.

It just looked like a volcano.

– Chris McPhail, Eyewitness

In the early hours of this morning, North Wales Police Tweeted: "From the roundabout in Blaenau Ffestiniog to McColls on Church Street due to fire on the mountain. Diversions in place but please avoid the area if possible."

Pictures of the area show the scale of the fire.

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Meanwhile another fire broke out on Monday afternoon at Bettws y Coed. Around 15 firefighters were involved in tackling the blaze.

Credit: Mel Evans

Elsewhere a grass fire broke out at Baglan Heights with 200 people alerting firefighters yesterday morning. Crews from Port Talbot, Neath and Swansea West were called out. An inspection will be carried out into what caused the fires.