It’s been three days since over 100 firefighters have been deployed in the Mourne Mountains of Northern Ireland to put out the raging fires that started on Friday morning. Although the fire is now under control, much has been lost in the process.
The Mourne Mountains are known as one of Northern Ireland's finest landmarks, with thriving biodiversity. However, the fire has wreaked havoc on the natural ecosystem, and also the local economy. Mark Smith, wildlife lead for the service told Sky News:
It's a very, very large area… we're still measuring the exact size of it… but at present, there will be a large impact on the environment and ecosystems in this area.
First Minister, Arlene Foster tweeted:
This is devastating and tragic. The impact on wildlife and flora is unimaginable. Full support to those battling the flames.
Deliberate sparks amidst the driest April UK has ever seen
Although experts suspect that the fire was sparked deliberately, the reason why it got completely out of control is because the UK is currently dealing with unusually dry weather. On average, there is normally 72.53mm of rainfall every April, but this year that number has significantly decreased to 12.88mm, resulting in drier, more flammable grass. Environment Minister, Edwin Poots commented:
This should not be happening, it is a time of the year when there is a lot of dry grass about, and people need to be ultra cautious that they don’t accidentally start a fire like this.
And for those who do it deliberately – you are doing massive damage to the environment, to biodiversity and to wildlife.
The blaze started in the Slieve Donard area and spread to Thomas Mountain, Bloody Bridge and Glenn River area. The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Services (NIFRS) spent the entire weekend tirelessly bringing the fire under control. Aiden Jennings, Assistant Chief Fire and Rescue Officer Aidan Jennings said:
Everyone has worked so hard in extremely challenging conditions, they have worked tirelessly—it is at the heart of what it means to be a firefighter.
Given the dry spell that the UK is currently facing, the NIFRS has declared the area unsuitable for wild camping. They added:
We would ask the public to exercise due care and vigilance in relation to fire safety if out in the countryside during this current dry spell.