Several doze propane gas bottles near the scene of Rathlin island gorse fire

Several doze propane gas bottles near the scene of Rathlin island gorse fire

FIRE chiefs found scores of butane gas bottles close to a massive gorse fire on Rathlin island.

They said the bottles could have exploded had the ravaging fires reached them.

And eight houses were close to the gorse fires which swept across the island.

Crews from across Northern Ireland brought a large gorse fire on the island off the north Antrim coastline under control after 12 hours.

Emergency services were called shortly after 1pm on Thursday afternoon, to respond to the blaze which started after rubbish caught fire.

At its height, the fire stretched to more than a kilometre.

Crews from Ballycastle, Ballymoney, Ballyclare, Cushendall and Maghera made their way to the island onboard the Rathlin Ferry.

There are no reports of any injuries.

Fire Service group commander Fergal Leonard said it wasn’t an easy task.

“It was difficult for us in terms of access to get at the fire.

“So it was very important that we dedicated our resources to this, obviously to protect the life and property that there is on Rathlin Island, and also there are sites of special scientific interest, there’s nesting birds on the island.”

Coleraine District Commander Bill Wilsdon said the Northern Ireland Fire Service were alerted at around 1.20pm.

Fire tenders taken to Rathlin island on ferry

Fire tenders taken to Rathlin island on ferry

He said access to the area was difficult which meant the flames had been able to spread.

The fire is close to a number of properties on the west of the island.

“At the minute we still have a number of personnel engaged in trying to extinguish the fire,” Commander Wilsdon explained.

“The biggest problems were logistics, obviously being on off-shore island, we’ve had to get all our resources out to the island and we’ve been using the ferry here, who’ve been very helpful in getting our crews and appliances out to the island.

“At the moment the biggest concern would be if the winds were to rise again as they did this afternoon, the fire could flare up, but our plan is to protect the property on the island and ensure the fire doesn’t affect that.”


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