Cave Hill fire started deliberately

Published Tuesday, 29 May 2012
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A fire that raged overnight on Belfast's Cave Hill was started deliberately, the Fire and Rescue Service has said.

Cave Hill fire started deliberately
The fire was put out early on Tuesday morning. (© Presseye)

The three acre blaze began at around 9.30pm on Monday and could be seen across the city.

Up to 25 fire fighters and four engines tackled the blaze, with fire crews remaining on Cave Hill until 11pm on Monday, at which stage Group Commander Kevin O'Neill said they had to withdraw "because of the difficulty of the terrain and the dangers associated with working in the night time".

"Unfortunately it was a deliberate act," he explained.

"Our crews have been informed that there were youths on the mountain last night who were seen lighting the fire."

The fire was kept under observation overnight to ensure it did not spread towards any homes or businesses and at around 5.30am on Tuesday crews returned to Cave Hill to extinguish the blaze.

The blaze happened just two days after a wildlife survey on Cave Hill recorded hundreds of species, including rare plants and animals.

Badgers, bats, hares and birds of prey all live in the area and Jim Bradley, Belfast Hills Partnership Manager said Cave Hill has suffered repeated attacks with devastating effects.

"Lighting fires poses a real danger for people using the Belfast Hills and also for those setting the fires - especially with cliff edges present in Cave Hill Country Park.

"We ask the public to remain vigilant and phone 999 when they see a hill fire.

"In conjunction with Belfast City Council we have just erected fire card dispensers at Belfast Castle which explains what to do when a fire is spotted.

"We hope we can educate and help reduce the instances of gorse fires in the Belfast Hills in future, but we do need the public's continued help," added Mr Bradley.

© UTV News
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4 Comments
John in Belfast wrote (822 days ago):
Tomc you are entirely right.. PSNI cannot be blamed for this, rather the idiots who started the fire. My family and I love the Cave Hill and surrounding area; we use it very regularly for running, walking and picnics etc. Why do some people think it's okay to vandalise and destroy such a natural and beautiful amenity?
tomc in Belfast wrote (822 days ago):
That's right, put the onous on the police. Have you seen the size of the land involved? How in God's name do you expect the police to prevent some idiot lighting a fire in such an area??? If you invested your time in looking at what police resources are left in your area you'd find that you've little available to deal with normal nonsense never mind policing the Cavehill. Hows about getting yourself and your friends up there to try and do what you want the limited resources of the police to do - they're human just like you - have a go at trying to cover all of that ground! Get real!
Fiona in Belfast wrote (822 days ago):
Could someone tell me what plans the PSNI has put in place to help prevent this again. As this is a ritual event every time there is a dry spell; and we do not get that many, surely this could be prevented and the culprits caught, provided the will is there.
Gerry in Belfast wrote (823 days ago):
What action plan has the PSNI got in place in relation to this: probably none. This has been going on for years whenever there is a dry spell. I am sure it wouldn't cost too much to divert some resources to monitor the hill over the few dry spells we get. At the same time we learn that the PSNI are put resources into catching speeding motorcyclists.
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