Residents fought gorse fires with garden hoses

The fires which beset residents of Hazlebank and Ballymagroarty this past weekend. Photo by Jon McCourt.
The fires which beset residents of Hazlebank and Ballymagroarty this past weekend. Photo by Jon McCourt.

Derry firefighters were called into action to tackle a staggering 114 gorse fires in the past week.

The problem was so severe in some areas of the city that residents had to ‘stand guard’ with garden hoses in order to protect their properties.

The problem was so severe in some areas of the city that residents battled flames with garden hoses in order to protect their properties.

Jon McCourt, who assisted in the battle reported: “Watching four different groups of young people lighting fires in the Marianus Glen alone.”

As well as Hazelbank, firefighters were tasked to fires in Ballymagroarty, Creggan and the Brandywell since Thursday.

Mr. McCourt said: “There was an older woman in her back yard with a hose trying to douse down flames at her fence.

“She and I were worried and frightened about the blaze spreading to her oil tank. This is a disaster waiting to happen. This is reckless endangerment of both lives and property.

“Not to mention the risks these young people are exposing themselves to.

“These children could find themselves trapped within seconds of starting a fire. Who will get the blame then?”

Western Area Commander, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Trevor Ferguson, said: “Dealing with these types of incidents puts not only Firefighters’ lives at risk but the lives of everyone in the local community.

“It puts additional pressure on Service resources.”

Commander Ferguson said: “There is no room for complacency and with the upsurge in gorse fire related call outs last week we are appealing for people, especially young people, to be aware of the very serious consequences that deliberate fire setting in the countryside can have on the whole community.”