Authorities warn Northern Ireland gorse fires "started deliberately"

Families were forced to evacuate their homes in Newry last night as fire services tackled a major blaze

Authorities in Northern Ireland believe a gorse fire which threatened a number of homes near Newry in County Down may have been started deliberately.

Families were forced to evacuate their homes as eight fire engines attempted to bring the fire under control. 

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) was called to the fire just before 9pm and eventually put it out at around 2am.

Nobody was injured and no buildings were damaged according to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland PSNI has warned that almost 250 fires have been reported across the region since the beginning of May – adding that they believe the majority were set deliberately.

Gorse fires have 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,” said PSNI superintendent Emma Bond.

“The unpredictability of fire can also mean that those setting 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.

“There can also be untold consequences to tying up crucial emergency resources that may be needed elsewhere.”

She called on those responsible to re-think their actions and appealed to anyone with information to come forward and contact police.