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Bonfire fears: Housing Executive boards up 52 homes where residents are afraid whole street will go up in flames

By Claire Cromie

Published 10/07/2015

The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The scene in East Belfast's Chobham Street where more than 50 homes have been boarded up to protect them from a 11 July bonfire.
The towering bonfire at Chobham Street in east Belfast
Pallets stacked ready to be placed on the structure
Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
Election posters of Alliance MLA Anna Lo and Sinn Fein's MEP Martina Anderson were placed on a bonfire in the Bloomfield estate in Bangor
Preparations get underway at the Bonfire in Lanark Way in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pacemaker Press 7/7/2014
The huge bonfire on Lanark Way
Ballyduff bonfire in Newtownabbey July 2014
Election posters of Alliance member Anna Lo on the Bonfire in Carrickfergus ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pacemaker Press 7/7/2014
Mount Vernon North Belfast july 2014
Young loyalists scale the huge face of the bonfire on Lanark Way, off the Shankill
Preparations get underway at the Bonfire in Lanark Way in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pic Pacemaker
Sandy Row South Belfast 2014
A statue of our the Virgin Mary placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way PACEMAKER
Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
A statue of our lady placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/07/2013 Young men pictured enjoying the Bonfire in King George Playing Fields Upper Newtownards Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD The 12th night bonfire celebrations get underway in Erinvale Estate in Finaghy Road South last night. The bonfire fell over close to people watching. A man runs as the bonfire starts to fall
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/07/2013 Katie-Leigh Bain,Curtis Johnston and Cherene Grundmann pictured enjoying the Bonfire in King George Playing Fields Upper Newtownards Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/7/13 The Bonfire in Ballyduff on the outskirt's of Belfast on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow

The Housing Executive is boarding up windows in a Belfast street where residents are terrified their homes will go up in flames when a massive bonfire is lit.

Some families in Chobham Street, off Ravenscroft Avenue, have already moved out and those who remain say they are "petrified" for their own safety and that of their homes.

Pictures have emerged today showing wooden boards being placed over residents' windows by property maintenance contractors CFM (Combined Facilities Management), which undertakes work for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Residents said the Fire Service had warned that houses in the street were in danger of catching alight on the eleventh night on Saturday.

There are already 1,700 pallets on the bonfire which has a core of tyres down the middle, and hundreds more pallets remain to be added, which will make it even bigger.

The bonfire is located on waste ground at the Comber Greenway, just 30 feet from houses in Chobham Street.

A Housing Executive spokesperson said: “We are assisting the Department for Regional Development (DRD) in Chobham Street by boarding up the largely private houses on their behalf to assist residents during this difficult time.

"Approximately 52 houses in the area will be boarded up, one of which is owned by the Housing Executive. The Housing Executive’s contractors are undertaking the work today (10 July). DRD will recompense the Housing Executive for the cost of this work.”

The contractors are using Sterling OSB Grade C board to protect the homes, which the Housing Exec says  is designed to be water and fire resistant and will act as a barrier to protect UPVC windows and doors from radiant heat emissions.

Sources said that officials didn't want to intervene to reduce the size of the bonfire because they feared that would lead to a riot.

One homeowner said: "Nobody is willing to take action. Rather than act now to prevent disaster, their attitude seems to be that they'll just mop up the mess after the eleventh night."

Insurance companies have told some homeowners that, because of the presence of combustible material so nearby, they won't accept liability if the properties are destroyed or damaged by fire.

Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy has been told by some homeowners that his department will be held legally liable if their properties catch fire.

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle called on Mr Kennedy to take urgent action.

“We are working with people to help them celebrate culture and tradition in a positive manner but the size and location of this particular bonfire now poses a serious risk to residents, a community centre and a dedicated cycle and walkway," he said.

“It is unacceptable in 2015 that a government department has allowed this bonfire to progress to the stage, where residents are living in fear for the safety of their homes. The Minister for Regional Development must take action to make the area safe and show greater leadership on this issue.”

Read more:

Belfast residents fear whole street could go up when massive bonfire is ignited

Ballymacash residents 'feeling intimidated' as Lisburn bonfire grows in size  

Nazi and Confederate flags erected near loyalist bonfire site in Carrickfergus alongside paramilitary flags

Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
Election posters of Alliance MLA Anna Lo and Sinn Fein's MEP Martina Anderson were placed on a bonfire in the Bloomfield estate in Bangor
Preparations get underway at the Bonfire in Lanark Way in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pacemaker Press 7/7/2014
The huge bonfire on Lanark Way
Ballyduff bonfire in Newtownabbey July 2014
Election posters of Alliance member Anna Lo on the Bonfire in Carrickfergus ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pacemaker Press 7/7/2014
Mount Vernon North Belfast july 2014
Young loyalists scale the huge face of the bonfire on Lanark Way, off the Shankill
Preparations get underway at the Bonfire in Lanark Way in Belfast, ahead of the 12th of July annual Orange celebrations Pic Pacemaker
Sandy Row South Belfast 2014
A statue of our the Virgin Mary placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way PACEMAKER
Bonfire on Shankill Road 2012
A statue of our lady placed on a loyalist bonfire at Lanark Way
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/07/2013 Young men pictured enjoying the Bonfire in King George Playing Fields Upper Newtownards Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
12.07.13. PICTURE BY DAVID FITZGERALD The 12th night bonfire celebrations get underway in Erinvale Estate in Finaghy Road South last night. The bonfire fell over close to people watching. A man runs as the bonfire starts to fall
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Thursday 11th July 2013 General view of at the bonfire in the loyalist Highfield Estate in west Belfast. In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, an annual Protestant commemoration of the Battle of the Boyne. Picture by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 11/07/2013 Katie-Leigh Bain,Curtis Johnston and Cherene Grundmann pictured enjoying the Bonfire in King George Playing Fields Upper Newtownards Road Belfast. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/7/13 The Bonfire in Ballyduff on the outskirt's of Belfast on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press Young men from the Shankill area of Belfast put the finishing touch on their bonfire's on the 11th of july. picture mark marlow
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire on Sandy Row in Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
General view of the bonfire on Lanark Way off the Shankill Road in west Belfast.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
?Presseye.com 10th July 2013 General Views of some of the Bonfires in and Around Belfast Donegall Road Bonfire with Mark Wilson and William Magee ?Presseye.com
?Presseye.com 10th July 2013 General Views of some of the Bonfires in and Around Belfast The bonfire at New Mossley ?Presseye.com
?Presseye.com 10th July 2013 General Views of some of the Bonfires in and Around Belfast Belvoir Bonfire ?Presseye.com
Presseye Northern Ireland - 10th July 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-William Cherry/Presseye Youths tend the bonfire at the Ballymacash, Lisburn ahead of the Twelfth of July celebrations.
Pacemaker press 11/07/2013: The Bonfire at Belvoir, South Belfast the 12th of July celebrations began at midnight across the province. Picture By: Arthur Allison.

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