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Public urged to avoid Tollymore as fire tackled

Firefighters tackle a gorse fire at Drinnahilly in Newcastle. Picture by Mal McCann

WALKERS are being urged to stay away from Tollymore Forest Park as firefighters battle a nearby blaze - believed to have been started deliberately.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) warned that a forest fire at Drinnahilly mountain in Co Down could spread.

That fire had been contained on Wednesday night, but there were concerns today that changes in wind direction and heat could cause it to re-ignite.

Up to 60 firefighters and specialist wildfire officers were involved in the operation. They were withdrawn from the area at nightfall on Wednesday due to safety concerns.

The fire affected up to 10 acres.

Group Commander William Johnston asked that the public avoid the park due to the dangers of fire and also to ensure no one impeded operations.

It is the second time in little more than a week that the NIFRS has dealt with a blaze in the area.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed that all way-marked trails and forest roads past the Shimna River in Tollymore Forest Park are closed today to public access.

"The public should also be aware of additional emergency services and forestry vehicle traffic throughout Tollymore Forest Park," a spokesman said.

Firefighters tackle a gorse fire at Drinnahilly in Newcastle. Picture by Mal McCann

Firefighters tackle an ongoing gorse fire at Drinnahilly in Newcastle, walkers and hikers have been asked to stay away from Tollymore Forest Park near Newcastle in County Down. Picture Mal McCann.

Firefighters tackle an ongoing gorse fire at Drinnahilly in Newcastle, walkers and hikers have been asked to stay away from Tollymore Forest Park near Newcastle in County Down. Picture Mal McCann.

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