Fire crews protect Belfast homes from major bonfire

Tricolours and election posters of Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance politicians placed on pyre


Fire-fighters had to douse a number of homes with jets of water to protect them from a major “Eleventh Night” bonfire in east Belfast on Saturday night.

There were concerns the huge bonfire at Chobham Street, erected about 30ft from some terraced houses, would damage them.

Ahead of the fire, a number of families moved out of their homes while more than 50 houses were boarded up by Housing Executive workers at a cost of £10,000 (€13,900) to the Department of Regional Development.

Six fire tenders and 35 firefighters were at the scene as the fire was lit on Saturday night.

The crews sprayed water on some of the houses to try to protect them from heat damage. Fire officers said minor water damage might have been caused to some of them.

They said it was a complex operation and that fire officers had to work in “extremely punishing conditions” to protect the properties.

Hundreds gathered

Hundreds of people gathered to watch the bonfire. A number of tricolours along with Sinn Féin, SDLP and Alliance election posters were placed on the bonfire.

The bonfire at the Ballycraigy estate in Antrim featured a coffin with an effigy of hunger striker Bobby Sands, flanked by figures of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.

A US confederate flag featuring the words LVF (Loyalist Volunteer Force) was also placed at the bonfire.

The Northern Ireland Fire Service said it received 88 bonfire-related calls through Saturday and into Sunday morning, which was down on previous years.

This was because the bonfires were taking place through the weekend, rather than on just one night.

“It is likely that reduced call numbers were due to the fact that the 11th of July this year fell on Saturday, and a number of bonfires may have been held over to be ignited on the evening of Sunday 12th July,” the fire service said in a statement.

The parades are taking place on Monday, July 13th, because Twelfth parades are not held on Sundays.