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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 18:27 GMT
Mournes fire 'thought deliberate'
The fire in the Mourne Mountains
Firefighters were forced to beat down the flames by hand
The Fire and Rescue Service is dealing with a large blaze in the Mourne Mountains it believes was started deliberately.

The fire was reported to the service just after 1400 GMT on Thursday.

It is understood the fire broke out in gorse land in the mountains in County Down. The Fire Service said the blaze was being fanned by high winds.

Several square miles are burning just above Bloody Bridge, off the Newcastle to Annalong Road.

David Thompson of the National Trust, who was at the scene, said important vegetation was being lost.

"The fire started at National Trust land close to Bloody Bridge and if this fire keeps going it will go over the top of Slieve Donard and onto other lands that the National Trust dearly takes an interest in.

"We love this whole mountain - this whole mountain is fabulously important for its natural vegetation."

Alan Fulford from the Fire and Rescue Service said it had been difficult to get at the blaze. Firefighters were forced to beat down the flames.




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