PSNI blame arsonists for Armagh forest fires

Fires in a forest park were the work of arsonists, police said today.

Four separate fires were started in the Slieve Gullion Forest Park in Co Armagh last night, each destroying about an acre of young trees.

A daylight examination of the scene by the Police Service and the Fire & Rescue Service concluded the blazes were started deliberately.

It was the latest in a series of countryside blazes started by firebugs in recent weeks.

Firefighters were today also tackling a gorse fire stretching for a mile-and-a-half outside Dungiven, Co Derry.

Fire crews believe that blaze was also started deliberately and five crews fought to save the young trees.

The Fire & Rescue Service revealed this week it had tackled over 880 wildland gorse fires since the start of April – many started maliciously.

They warned that accidental and malicious countryside fires could cost lives.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Peter Craig said: “With the dry warm weather of recent weeks we have experienced an upsurge in wildland gorse-type fires. Unfortunately some of these fires were started deliberately and we would remind the public of the very real dangers of starting fires in dry weather.”

He added: “We appeal to people not to start fires deliberately and to report any suspicious behaviour to the police immediately.”

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