Health Minister Robin Swann has commended firefighters from the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) during a visit to the command centre in Newcastle.
The Minister met with firefighters and other emergency responders who continue to battle a serious blaze in the Mourne Mountains.
Speaking during the visit the Minister said: “I have been watching this major incident unfold over the last few days. While the situation is improving, the blaze is continuing to cause significant damage to the Mourne Mountain area. The bravery, commitment and determination of these firefighters have very much shone through as they worked tirelessly in extreme circumstances to bring this fire under control. I pay tribute to each and every one of them.
“These men and women are very much the heroes and protectors of our environment. But there is an onus on us all to take better care of our natural heritage and protect all the species that live there. Everyone has a role to play in protecting our landscape so future generations can enjoy and benefit from it.”
NIFRS has declared a major incident and the public are advised to stay away as the incident is ongoing.
Chief Fire & Rescue Officer Michael Graham said: “I appreciate the Minister coming to visit the site of the major incident our firefighters have been dealing with since the early hours of Friday morning.
“Minister Swann was able to see at first hand the fantastic ongoing effort from our firefighters in tackling this huge wildfire.
“The Minister, and the entire community, have been very supportive of our efforts over the weekend and I know everyone in NIFRS is extremely grateful for that support. This has truly been a multi-agency approach.
“As we continue to deal with this major incident I am once again calling on everyone to be particularly careful when it comes to fire safety, especially in the countryside. Fires like this can be prevented but only if we all do our part.”