Party atmosphere turns to panic as pyre's molten debris sets homes ablaze
At the peak of the Hopewell Square bonfire the flames shot high into the sky showering bright red embers and molten debris over the crowd.
Nestled between the Shankill and Crumlin Roads, the pyre was one of the biggest in Belfast and could be seen burning brightly from the city's surrounding hilltops.
Lighting up the nearby wreckage of the old Crumlin courthouse, it dominated the area from when it was lit at the traditional time of midnight.
The bonfire drew several hundred revellers for both the flames and party music being pumped from a nearby stage.
The sheer heat of the bonfire pushed the crowd back, windows in nearby houses were boarded up for protection, however most dangerous was the cloud of red hot debris being showered by the wind from the flames as it blew towards a row of terraced houses.
Some spectators dodged the deadly missiles, while others sheltered and some were not so lucky. One photographer was left with a minor injury to his face and another's coat was burned down on one side.
The mood, however, changed utterly when glowing embers could be seen lying on the roof of one of the houses in the terrace. Smoke started to rise and quickly the roof was ablaze.
One man heroically scaled the wall of the house to the roof to try and extinguish the flames. Others looked on in horror as he almost slipped before steadying himself.
Firefighters were quickly on the scene, and marshals rushed to ensure they could get as close as possible to try and save the houses as the music was stopped.
However it quickly became clear that the roof of a second house was also alight, and residents could be seen rushing from the houses clutching large bags of what belongings they were able to grab as they fled their homes.
They were supported by neighbours as they watched helplessly as their homes and belongings were enveloped by the flames.
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