Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Saturday, 24 April 2010 17:40 UK

Major Mourne blaze at Annalong Wood tackled

Cavehill fire
Firefighters were called to tackle a blaze at Cavehill

Firefighters have managed to put out a major gorse fire in the Mourne Mountains in County Down.

Thirty firefighters and seven fire engines were involved in extinguishing the blaze on top of Slieve Binnian, above Annalong.

At one stage, they had to beat out the fire with shovels. It is thought it may have been started deliberately.

The Fire Service were called to the blaze at Annalong Wood near Newcastle at about 0500 BST.

Walkers were warned to avoid the Slieve Binnion, Bloody Bridge and Dinny Water areas because of the fire.

The firefighters and seven fire appliances had been shuttled into the area of the fire on all-terrain coastguard and PSNI vehicles.

Group commander Lloyd Crawford said fire officers had to beat the blaze out with shovels.

He added that he believed the fire, which has destroyed about 50 hectares of gorse, had been started deliberately.

"This has pulled in officers from all around the surrounding area. When we are up here fighting fires at the tops of the mountains, personnel are not available to fight house fires and other things that people might require us for."

The Fire Service also attended another gorse fire at Cavehill in Belfast early on Saturday morning. About 15 firefighters left the scene at 0315 BST.

Northern Ireland has been blighted by hundreds of gorse and bush fires in recent weeks.

The Fire Service have accused arsonists of starting most of the fires deliberately and warned that its personnel are being put in danger.

Meanwhile, more than 100 firefighters have been tackling more than 30 bog and forest fires in the west of Ireland.

The crews were working until 0530 BST, bringing under control fires in Leitrim, Mayo, Roscommon and Galway.

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