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Shankill bonfire that destroyed three homes moved to back of office block

 

By Staff Reporter

A loyalist bonfire that gutted three houses in Belfast last year has been moved to a new site just yards from three NIHE homes and an office block.

A pensioner and a child had to be rescued from their homes in the lower Shankill's Hopewell Square as fire spread from an Eleventh Night bonfire, destroying three terraced houses.

The inferno was caused by burning embers from the bonfire blowing onto the roofs.

Last year's bonfire site has now been turned into an park area, so the Eleventh Night pyre has had to be relocated elsewhere in the loyalist housing estate.

Wood and pallets for this years' celebrations are now piling up on waste ground at Boundary Way, and spilling outside three homes - one of them a pensioner's bungalow.

The new site is also just yards from the rear of a retail and office block on the main Shankill Road.

Last night, councillor Jolene Bunting said she would inspect the new site and do all she could to ensure that this year's bonfire was safe.

"Safety must always be our first priority" she said.

Council officers and the PSNI are to visit bonfires across Belfast in case toxic chemicals have been dumped at other sites.

In an internal memo sent to all councillors yesterday, City Hall chiefs said: "Council officers and PSNI will deploy extra resources to carry out joint visits to all bonfire sites across the city in coming days with a view to identifying any visible, immediate or acute chemical public health risks".

Councillors were told that police and council officers would not be dismantling bonfires and would only be able to assess if there were any risks from the material that was visible.

The memo revealed a resident had informed the council on Monday of "illegally dumped material" at the Glenwood Street site but "didn't mention the presence of hazardous material".

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