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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 April, 2003, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Relief at cadets' fire rescue
Gorse fire
Five times the usual amount of gorse fires for this time of year
A fire officer has spoken of his sense of relief after six teenagers feared missing in a raging forest fire in County Antrim turned up safe and well.

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

They had failed to turn up at a rendezvous point when the fire was reported.

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

We were extremely concerned about their location and proximity to the fire
Tommy Dowds
Assistant area commander
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.

Assistant area commander Tommy Dowds of the Fire Brigade said there was huge relief following the rescue operation.

"Some of their group had managed to come out of the forest onto the road and made contact with their group leaders.

"They were able to advise their group leaders that half of their party were unaccounted for and were still in the forest.

"They were pointed to be in the area of the fire, and we were extremely concerned about their location and proximity to the fire," he said.

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

Forest fire teenagers found safe
19 Apr 03  |  Northern Ireland
Gorse fires stretch services
16 Apr 03  |  Northern Ireland
Severe gorse fires 'deliberate'
14 May 01  |  Northern Ireland

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