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Coillte firefighter Tony Clarke battles a gorse fire outside Pontoon in Co Mayo. Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Fire chiefs warn that gorse blazes could continue into week

A boy of 10 is questioned in Northern Ireland, while firefighters continue to tackle blazes in Donegal and Offaly.

FIRE SERVICE CHIEFS have warned that the ongoing gorse fires blazing across the country could continue further into the week, as dry weather and high winds hinder efforts to quell them completely.

Fire services in counties Donegal and Offaly are continuing to fight the separate blazes, while authorities in the North continue to tackle a similar blaze that started there in the Mourne Mountains.

In the latter case, the Belfast Telegraph reports that a 10-year-old child was yesterday being questioned, of suspicion of being involved in starting the fires, as firefighters continued to battle up to 200 individual wildfires.

A second boy, aged 15, had been apprehended earlier yesterday on suspicion of arson. Homeowners near the Mourne and Sperrin mountain ranges have been warned that they may be forced to evacuate their homes if the fires are not contained.

The fire in Dungloe in Co Donegal has been brought under control, RTÉ News reported, though the wooded area between Glenties and Andara remains ablaze, as does a gorse area near Bridgend, at the county’s border with Derry.

Army helicopters using so-called ‘Bambi buckets’, which scoop water from nearby lakes, have been deployed to help tackle those fires, as have helicopters hired by the State’s forestry agency Coillte.

Firefighters in Offaly, meanwhile, spent the night battling blazes between Ferbane and Clara, and between Tullamore and Dangan.

The Irish Independent reports that fires were also continuing in Foxford and Pontoon in Co Mayo, at Ballintogher in Co Sligo, the Inagh Valley in Co Galway and at Bragan Mountain in Co Monaghan.

Homes and farms in the north-west have sprayed water on the lands around their homes in an attempt to stop the fires from spreading onto their lands, the Irish Times said.

Updates of traffic restrictions as a result of the fires can be found at the AA Roadwatch website.