Villagers' fury at plan to cut power over bonfire safety fears
News that up to 300 homes will be without electricity on the Eleventh Night after a bonfire was built close to overhead power lines has sparked anger in a small rural village.
Residents are furious after officials said the bonfire at Articlave in Co Londonderry poses a serious risk to health and safety – despite being built in the same spot as previous years.
Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) said that the smoke and heat from bonfires can cause electrical arcing and sparking, and in some cases lines may be brought down by the fire.
NIE has now written to the residents of the affected homes informing them that they will be without electricity from 10pm on July 11 until 9am on July 12.
Janine Parsons, a resident of Rockmount Gardens, said: "It's a terrible thing to do. They have been running bonfires for years. It's mostly elderly people who live here and what are they going to do without any electricity?
"Everyone is up in arms."
As well as householders, local businesses will also see their power cut off on the night, such as the Village Tavern Pub and Chequers Chip Shop, which do not have their own electricity generators.
A spokesman from the Village Tavern said: "I have been speaking to people about the bonfire issue and they have said it's not in a different place to what it was any other year.
"So they don't know why it's an issue this year."
Coleraine DUP councillor George Duddy told the Belfast Telegraph that discussions were ongoing.
He said: "I hope that we can find a satisfactory resolution for all of the community ahead of Thursday."
Sarah McClintock from NIE said: "NIE emergency crews have assessed the site and the safest course of action is to isolate the section of electricity network and remove the lines."
"Our concern is the safety of the general public who may be watching the bonfire. Smoke and heat from bonfires can cause damage to electricity equipment, and in some cases may bring down live electricity lines."
Sarah McClintock from NIE