Environment minister Edwin Poots has again appealed for the public to not light fires when visiting the countryside.
During a visit to Armoy, Minister Poots said: “The level of lasting damage caused to natural habitat and associated wildlife by wildfire is shocking and unnecessary.
“I came to see for myself the consequences of wildfire here at Altarichard in north Antrim, where two fires in recent months badly damaged heather habitat and cost the local environment dearly. The Department recognises the need to address the issue of wildfires. One element will be the establishment of Local Wildfire Groups and encouraging the development of Wildfire Response Plans and Wildfire Management Plans.”
Minister Poots added: “I want to again appeal to everyone that no one should start a fire in the countryside. Wildfires in this country are not natural, being started either deliberately, or by reckless burning or disposal of flammable vegetation or waste material. The public also have a huge responsibility when visiting the country side to take their rubbish home with them. Wildfires could result in tragedy for people caught in the line of a fire – don’t burn waste or vegetation and don’t fly-tip or drop litter.”
Paddy Gallagher, Assistant Chief Fire & Rescue Officer, Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS), added: “We are calling on the community to act responsibly by not lighting any unnecessary fires in the countryside. We are asking people to be careful when disposing of their rubbish, using portable BBQs, and disposing of cigarette butts in the countryside- as they have the potential to spread and cause devastating wildfires, which puts unnecessary pressure on our Firefighters.”
“The public are reminded that deliberate setting of wildfires is a criminal offence and if you see anyone setting a fire you should call the emergency services immediately.