Castlerock gorse fires a year ago.
NORTHERN Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has warned the public to be aware of the increased risk of wildfires this weekend.
The warning comes after a week in which Firefighters dealt with 67 wildfires, while also responding to 238 other emergency incidents across Northern Ireland.
Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer Aidan Jennings said:
“Conditions are expected to be ripe for wildfires to spread quickly this weekend. We are acutely aware that this is early in the year for wildfires to take hold meaning we are potentially facing a sustained period of responding to wildfires, should the good weather continue.
“From Monday to Thursday this week we responded to 67 wildfire calls. While doing so we’re also still keeping the people of Northern Ireland safe, responding to 238 other incidents including 8 house fires, 2 of which involved Firefighters rescuing men in their 70’s.
“Other incidents required our specialist skills and expertise, including a collapsed building in Belfast and an electrical fire in which 80 homes were left without power. This highlights the seriousness of emergency incidents happening daily. We all need our Firefighters to be embedded in the community ready to respond when our community needs us most.
“We have detailed plans in place to respond to wildfire incidents but there’s no doubt it puts an added pressure on our service and our partner agencies. That’s why it’s so crucial that the public do their part.
“If you’re visiting the countryside this weekend please be extremely careful with anything that might start a fire including matches, lighters and barbeques. The prescribed land burning period for farmers and landowners is up until 14 April however they are asked to contact us first on 02892 664221.
“Remember, deliberately setting a wildfire is a criminal offence, can be devastating to the environment and ultimately puts people’s lives at risk.”