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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK
Forest fire teenagers found safe
Gorse fire
Five times the usual amount of gorse fires for this time of year
Six Army cadets have been found safe and well after being caught in a forest fire in County Antrim.

The teenagers were part of a larger group taking part in an outdoors exercise in Slieveanorra Forest Park, near the village of Newtowncrommelin when the fire broke out on Saturday.

The alarm was raised when half the party failed to arrive at the rendezvous point.

Emergency services fought the fire and searched the forest for two hours, helped by a coastguard unit and a Royal Navy Sea King helicopter.

The teenagers, aged between 14 and 16, managed to make their own way out of the forest and met emergency personnel at Altnahinch reservoir.

The search was called off and the fire was brought under control.

The Army Cadet Force is a youth programme sponsored by the Army and the Ministry of Defence for teenagers aged between 13 and 18.

Gorse fires

Firefighters have also been dealing with a number of gorse fires in the province.

Part of the Belfast Road at Whitehead, County Antrim, was closed because of a gorse fire at Quarry Cottages, while firefighters tackled a blaze at Clare Forest outside Ballycastle, County Antrim.

There have been more than 500 gorse fires in less than 24 hours.

This is five times the usual amount for this time of year.

The worst fires on Friday were at Bloody Bridge near Newcastle and the Burnish, near Newry in County Down.

Divisional fire officer Harry Welsh said many fires were started maliciously.

"The vast majority of them are deliberately started so that is why we would really appeal to people to take extra care at this time of year when they are outdoors and using fires," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Gorse fires stretch services
16 Apr 03  |  Northern Ireland
Severe gorse fires 'deliberate'
14 May 01  |  Northern Ireland


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