Northern Ireland news

Fire crews battle gorse blazes in counties Down and Antrim

Firefighters have been battling gorse fires in counties Down and Antrim

Fire crews are battling major gorse blazes in counties Antrim and Down.

Fires are raging near Flagstaff forest outside Newry and grassland near Altnarichard forest in Co Antrim.

Around 45 firefighters are tackling the blaze near Flagstaff. The fire broke out at around midnight.

READ MORE: Crumlin Road courthouse fire 'started deliberately'

A second fire broke out near Altnarichard forest between between Magherahoney and Cushendall, Co Antrim.

Around 65 firefighters are at the scene. The blaze was reported to the Fire and Rescue Service at around 7.10am.

A third fire began on grassland close to Happy Valley carpark on the Trassey Road in Castlewellan, Co Down, this morning.

Around 46 firefighters are fighting the blaze, which began at around 11.30am.

Fire crews are expected to remain at the three blazes all day.

The fire service said it had received 171 calls about wildfires since Friday morning.

A spokesman 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.

"We would ask members of the public to avoid these areas at present to facilitate the movement of appliances to and from the incidents."

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