(NORTHERN IRELAND) JUST IN: A major incident has been declared as firefighters struggle to bring a wildfire in the Mourne Mountains under control since Saturday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.25: Fire crews have spent a second day tackling the blaze which has engulfed a large area in County Down from Bloody Bridge, across Thomas Mountain and the base of Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s highest mountain:

Major incident declared as wildfire ravages Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland AS Firefighters are struggling to tackle the blaze in the difficult mountainous terrain

Photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @DeeJayDready showing a huge gorse fire spreading across the Mourne Mountains in Co Down, as seen from Newcastle, Co Down. The fire in the Slieve Donard area has been ongoing since the early hours of Friday morning, with up to 60 firefighters and 12 appliances battling the blaze. Issue date: Saturday April 24, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story ULSTER Mournes. Photo credit should read: @DeeJayDready/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

A major incident has been declared in Northern Ireland as firefighters tackle blaze in the Mourne Moutains. (Photo:@DeeJayDready/PA Wire) INEWS

Smoke and flames rise from a wildfire in the Mourne Mountains, near Newcastle, Northern Ireland, April 24, 2021. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

The public have been warned to stay away from an area normally popular with visitors.

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The fire started in the Slieve Donard area, not far from filming locations used in the fantasy series Game of Thrones, in the early hours of Friday morning.

However, difficult terrain is making it hard for the 70 firefighters and 10 fire appliances currently at the site to gain control of the blaze.

A major incident command centre has been established in Newcastle with helicopters brought in from England and Ireland to tackle the fire.

Aidan Jennings, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Assistant Fire Commander said: “This is undoubtedly one of the most challenging gorse fires firefighters have ever had to deal with.

“It’s really devastating to see an incident of this scale. 

“Our Firefighters are working in intense conditions, in challenging terrain and I commend them for the valiant efforts to date.”

Dry weather has created “a tinderbox landscape” but wildfires such as this one are “predominantly caused by human behaviour”, said Mr Jennings.Smoke and flames rise from the wildfire in the Mourne Mountains. (Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters)

Firefighters are having to travel for an hour-and-a-half up the mountain carrying equipment to get water to the scene of the blaze.

“We’re working with small pumps out of rivers but predominantly it is a physical, hard, beating out job up there”, said Mr Jennings, “We use Land Rovers to get crews up as far as we can, but then it’s out on foot, walking up with all of that equipment.”

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster said it was “devastating and tragic.”

She tweeted: “The impact on wildlife and flora is unimaginable. Full support to those battling the flames.”

The UK government’s Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis described the scenes as “deeply distressing”.

Edwin Poots, Northern Ireland’s environment minister, said horrifying damage is being done over a wide spread area, particularly to wildlife and biodiversity.

#AceNewsDesk report …………..Published: Apr.25: 2021:

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