Firefighters among the burned out gorse in the Mourne Mountains.

A massive wildfire in Northern Irish mountains that has been declared a serious incident of fire and rescue service (NIFRS) is causing “incredible” environmental damage.

Firefighters have been battling the blaze since early Friday.

An Irish coastguard helicopter which was assisting the NIFRS, turned it into a cross-border, inter-agency operation in County Down.

“undoubtedly one of the most challenging gorse fires firefighters have ever had to deal with”Aidan Jennings

Aidan Jennings, Deputy Fire and Rescue Executive Director said it was ‘undoubtedly one of the most challenging gorse fires firefighters have ever had to deal with’.

It’s taking your breath away at the damage at the place of the fire – Sky News and the NIFRS have been providing a comprehensive guide to what happened there.

Helicopters from the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom provided fire chiefs with aerial visuals of the blaze in an effort to inform tactics and move personnel to remote locations and plan resources.

Assistant Chief Constable Aidan Jennings said: “My experience over many years in the Fire and Rescue Service is that very few of these fires start outside human activity so my expectation is we will find this was a deliberate fire.

The fire began in the Slieve Donard area in the early hours of Friday.

Mourne Mountains

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The Mourne Mountains , also called the Mournes or Mountains of Mourne, are a granite mountain range in County Down in the south-east of Northern Ireland. (wikipedia)

Fire department

A fire department or fire brigade , also known as a fire authority or fire service in some areas, is an organization that provides firefighting services. In some areas, (wikipedia)

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland ; Ulster-Scots: Norlin Airlann) is a devolved constituent part of the United Kingdom. Located in the northeast of the island of Ireland, (wikipedia)

Fire services in the United Kingdom

The fire services in the United Kingdom operate under separate legislative and administrative arrangements in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. (wikipedia)

Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service is the statutory fire and rescue service for Northern Ireland. The NIFRS is overseen by the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service Board, (wikipedia)

Firefighter

A firefighter is a rescuer extensively trained in firefighting, primarily to extinguish hazardous fires that threaten life, property, (wikipedia)