Out and About: Be vigilant for fire bugs over Easter

A gorse fire on Divis Mountain, west Belfast
A gorse fire on Divis Mountain, west Belfast A gorse fire on Divis Mountain, west Belfast

THE EASTER weekend weather forecast looks bleak and considering the antics of arsonists in the great outdoors, that's a good thing.

Setting fires – I witnessed two in three days on Cave Hill this week – is not only a threat to wildlife, it's also extremely dangerous for people.

The fire bugs are determined to destroy our beautiful surroundings that are just bursting with spring and life.

They're the IS of the natural word and not the smartest of individuals.

What kinds of empty heads would try and wipe out birds, foxes, badgers and other animals just as their young are being born?

Dry sunny Easters are the critical times but it seems even a ray a sunshine has these thugs of our outdoor spaces unable to simply leave things alone.

Their aim is to create a blazing spectacle and to do this they need to make as big a fire as they can possibly muster.

Once fires such as those lit on Cave Hill join up, a deadly line of fire is established – and with the wind fanning the flames in any direction, anyone out walking or using the outdoors is a potential victim. It just takes the wind to increase or change direction.

The only way to combat this treat is to be vigilant when out and about, and by calling 999 and asking for fire emergency if you see or smell burning.

No-one will ask your name and often, when I call, it's the first the emergency services have heard of a fire in the place spotted.

Don't think either that putting out a gorse fire is easy as pointing a water hose – it involves our fire service beating down grass, bushes and heather with heavy spades – horrible, choking and exhausting work. So the quicker they are made aware of a fire, the better.