A fire that took more than three hours to extinguish is believed to have been started deliberately.
The blaze at derelict houses on Glenwood Street, near the Shankill Road in Belfast, broke out shortly after 3.30pm and it took four fire appliances, an aerial appliance and 18 firefighters until 7pm yesterday to put it out.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service's Assistant Group Commander Geoff Somerville described the fire as "significant" and said he believed it was started deliberately.
"The fire was started in an industrial bin.
"It is unlikely it was an accident. We believe it was arson.
"The fire progressed rapidly from the first house. We had to work quickly to ensure the fire did not spread beyond the eight houses to nearby commercial property.
"The houses affected were about to be demolished," he said.
Some motorists were forced to reverse their cars through thick black smoke to get away from the scene and avoid debris falling from the buildings.