Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Towering infernos in loyalist areas kickstart Twelfth celebrations

Loyalist youths on Belfast's Shankill Road watch over their bonfire as the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations loom large over the province with concerns and tension raised due to Parades Commission decisions on some contentious parade routes including Ardoyne in north Belfast . Picture Charles McQuillan/Pacemaker.

Last night hundreds of Eleventh Night bonfires were lit, kickstarting the annual Twelfth celebrations.

Competition was rife between local communities to build the biggest pyre.

In New Mossley in Belfast, the bonfire — estimated to be the largest in Northern Ireland — stood at more than 100ft tall.

Other massive structures were erected in areas such as Mount Vernon in north Belfast, the Cregagh estate in the east of the city and on the Shankill estate in west Belfast, where the bonfire rose to around 90ft and is expected to burn for about 24 hours.

In some cases tyres — which give off toxic fumes when alight — were placed on the bonfires.

However, in other areas family-friendly festivals of events were organised with beacons being lit as an alternative to the traditional bonfire after incentives were offered by some councils.

Last year fire crews attended 49 bonfire-related incidents, which was almost double the number of incidents in 2010 and a significant increase on the 37 during 2009.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer and Director of Safety Services Dale Ashford had urged those attending Eleventh Night events to make safety a priority.

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