Northern Ireland news

Teenage boy questioned on suspicion of arson following north Belfast gorse fire

Specialist wildlife officers were yesterday carrying out an assessment of the damage caused by a gorse fire at Cave Hill. Picture by Alan Lewis/PhotopressBelfast

A TEENAGE boy has been released on bail after being questioned on suspicion of arson following a gorse fire in north Belfast.

Police said officers investigating the blaze in the Upper Cavehill Road area had arrested the youth in west Belfast yesterday.

It comes after the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) confirmed it is treating the blaze as deliberate.

The gorse fire on Cavehill in Belfast was started on Wednesday evening and has since been brought under control by fire crews who had remained at the scene overnight to monitor the blaze.

Specialist wildlife officers carrying out an examination of the damage caused by the fire yesterday and a drone was also brought in to help with the enquiries.

The NIFRS had said there was no risk to life or property, but they had asked nearby residents to keep their doors and windows closed.

It later said that it was believed that the blaze was the result of deliberate ignition.

Police last night said a "teenage boy has been arrested on suspicion of arson and is currently assisting police with our enquiries".

A spokesman added: "Lighting uncontrolled gorse fires is highly irresponsible and has the potential to cause widespread damage to the environment and harm to wildlife, as well as threatening homes, farms and the people living in those areas.

"The unpredictability of fire can also mean that those causing them may be putting their own lives at risk as well as the lives of the fire service personnel and other emergency services tasked to deal with them.

"Police will be proactive in robustly investigating such reports and would urge landowners and members of the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to Police through 101, online or in an emergency 999."

Police confirmed this morning that the teenager had been released on bail pending further enquiries.

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Northern Ireland news