The firefighting operation at the Mourne mountains is being scaled back.

On the third day of battling the flames, the major incident status was de-escalated at about lunchtime today.

Firefighters moved to working on extinguishing hotspots.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has indicated that it hopes the operation can be wound up within hours.

Thirty firefighters and four appliances arrived at the Co Down peaks at first light this morning.

Stormont Health Minister Robin Swann visited the scene in Newcastle, Co Down, later in the day. He met with firefighters and other emergency responders.

"While the situation is improving, the blaze is continuing to cause significant damage to the Mourne mountain area," he said.

"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."

Firefighters' efforts have been supported by police, Coastguard, Mourne Rescue Team, Forestry Service, National Trust, NIEA and Sky Watch Patrol.

An Irish Coastguard helicopter was among those helping fire chiefs get an aerial view of the blaze to help inform tactics, transport personnel to remote locations and plan resources.

Chief fire and rescue officer Michael Graham said Mr Swann had seen first-hand the fantastic ongoing effort from firefighters tackling the huge wildfire.

The blaze in the Slieve Donard area started in the early hours of Friday.

There is no indication yet of how it started.