Five families now out of their homes thanks to huge bonfire that set houses' roofs ablaze
Five families have now had to move out of their homes after a bonfire on a Shankill estate set a number of houses ablaze.
The pyre at Hopewell Square was lit just after midnight on July 12. Sparks from the towering bonfire, located on a large green between rows of houses, rained down upon rooftops before one property caught fire.
Residents, including a 72-year-old woman and her two-year-old great-granddaughter and a young family, were evacuated from their homes as firefighters tackled the blaze.
Three of the houses were gutted, while a further two sustained smoke damage.
A spokeswoman for the Housing Executive said five families had since been forced to leave their homes.
While they were offered temporary accommodation, they are all staying with relatives.
An online fundraising effort to help the affected families replace their belongings has gathered in excess of £1,100.
Lord Mayor Brian Kingston, who has visited the victims several times since the bonfire, said the houses had been boarded up, but he added that the current assessment was that they could be repaired and eventually brought back into use.
But Ian McLaughlin, from the Lower Shankill Community Association, which has been helping affected residents, added: "The families are still quite distressed. It is absolutely terrible how it ended up.
"We complied very much with the criteria in the bonfire management scheme. The Fire Service have already said that the bonfire was within the regulations of being 50 metres away from the houses.
"It ended up being a pure accident that the embers blew into the roof space of a house.
"Now, we are just trying to help the affected families and do everything we can with the Housing Executive to try to get the people a house."
A spokeswoman from the Housing Executive said its staff were in the middle of assessing the damage.
"Five families were affected by the fire," she added. "Offers of temporary accommodation were made, but each of the residents have made their own arrangements. Staff at the local office remain in contact with those affected regarding ongoing housing need.
"A structural engineer has assessed the damage, and our staff are currently assessing the repairs required for each of the properties.
"Three properties have extensive fire damage and two have smoke damage."
Pensioner Lily Turtle (72) was in her bed when the embers set her roof on fire. Luckily, her daughter and other family members saw what was happening and rescued her from the blaze.
Mrs Turtle told the Belfast Telegraph earlier this week: "My hearing isn't that good, so I didn't hear it at the start.
Filmed this at Coolfin street beside City Hospital just now pic.twitter.com/lj9HitPCh6— Declan Lawn (@DecLawn) July 11, 2016
Crowd being moved back at Chobham St bonfire in case it falls forward pic.twitter.com/FReywn0TID— Maria McCann (@journomaria) July 11, 2016
Flames getting higher at Sandy Row pic.twitter.com/TIwwKwQSS2— Damien Edgar (@damien_utv) July 11, 2016
Here's hoping for a quiet 11th night, I really hope everyone will take care and come safe.— Dale Ashford (@NIFRSAshford) July 11, 2016
Depressing to still see Irish flags burned on bonfires for #EleventhNight. Celebrating your culture doesn't require disrespecting others'.— Christine Quigley (@c_quigley) July 11, 2016
Well done Ladyhill Bonfire Group .. Donation to Meningitis NI .. & great turnout from families and local groups pic.twitter.com/tsQug6nPp5— Danny Kinahan (@DdeBK) July 11, 2016
Chobham Street Bonfire— Gary (@UlstersNo1) July 11, 2016
east Belfast pic.twitter.com/1HuRSS1s7g
Just the standard Cluan Place bonfire, on a road, damaging public property and burning flags. pic.twitter.com/5AQb0HPIRL— Kris Nixon (@belfastbarman) July 11, 2016
Everyone welcome. All inclusive event we're told. Even "Taigs" like me? pic.twitter.com/hdqOX7o0tI— Orla Boyle (@The__Boyler) July 11, 2016
Oh joy, I can hear the pipes and drums in the distance #EleventhNight— Rachel (@rmoomin84) July 11, 2016
You couldn't move for the Prime Time specials and liberal think pieces if this was somehow a Republican bonfire. pic.twitter.com/7kSFu4jOpW— Paul Reynolds (@PaulFedayn) July 11, 2016
The only bonfire our wee one is bigger than is last yearspic.twitter.com/B1HcXwqmL5— Izzy (@Izzy_Giles) July 11, 2016
1st call from a constituent telling me my posters are on Bonfire in Ballymena area.— Patrice Hardy (@MisssPatrice) July 11, 2016
I ran for election in 2014.
What idiot kept my posters?
Bonfire before it gets lit pic.twitter.com/21PBzBxRev— Kacey :)) (@kaceylovessam) July 11, 2016
Responsible adults should look after lighting bonfires - before lighting the fire, check that no children or pets are hiding inside it— NIFRS (@NIFRSOFFICIAL) July 11, 2016
"I am so shocked about what happened. I have been living here for more than 20 years. My grandson got me out."
The pensioner added that neighbours had rallied and helped in whatever way they could since the fire.
Alan Walmsley, from the Fire and Rescue Service, told the BBC that crews were at the incident in Hopewell Square very quickly, and that their hard work had prevented a row of terraced houses from being destroyed.