Northern Ireland fire services received over 180 calls
Spokesman says number of calls is twice that of last year
A huge bonfire at New Mossley on the outskirts of Belfast, before it was set alight last night as loyalists celebrated July 12th. Photograph: PA
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service dealt with 15 bonfires and received over 180 calls last night as loyalists lit fires to mark the start of the marching season.
A NIFRS spokesperson said 184 calls - almost twice last year’s total - were received between 6pm yesterday and 1am this morning. They said 42 of these were related to bonfires.
At one point the service was receiving an emergency call every 77 seconds.
At one fire in Craigavon, Co Armagh, firefighters had to withdraw from attending to a bonfire when a number of youths starting throwing stones at them.
Another fire at Cluan Place, east Belfast, near where serious sectarian rioting has broken out in the past, caused some minor external fire damage at a nearby property.
In some cases the heat produced by the fires put nearby properties at risk and firefighters used jets of water to cool and protect the houses.
In Co Down, a number of houses at Huntly Road, Banbridge, and Ballyminetragh Gardens, Bangor, required external cooling due to heat coming from nearby bonfires.
Crews also attended 25 minor gorse and grass fires.
On July 11th bonfires are lit in protestant areas throughout Northern Ireland, the day before thousand of Orangemen march to remember the Battle of the Boyne.