Firefighters called out as huge bonfires lit on Eleventh Night
Firefighters were summoned to an incident involving a bonfire as huge blazes were lit in loyalist communities across Northern Ireland marking the height of the parading season.
The overall number of calls to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) was lower than last year, an early-evening update from the emergency service said.
NIFRS is currently attending bonfire incidents in Belfast, Portadown and Dungannon protecting adjacent properties. pic.twitter.com/4FC4kqv8Gx— NIFRSWalmsley (@NIFRSWalmsley) July 11, 2016
From 1800hrs to 0100hrs NIFRS received a total of 123 emergency calls of which 42 were bonfire related.#protectingourcommunity— NIFRSWalmsley (@NIFRSWalmsley) July 12, 2016
The traditional "Eleventh Night" fires mark the start of commemorations of the victory of the Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland in 1690.
The lighting of the towering structures, most built with stacks of wooden pallets, drew thousands of onlookers, but was again the source of controversy despite the efforts of organisers to improve their image.
To their defenders they make for a family-friendly, spectacular celebration of loyalist/Protestant culture; to their detractors they are potentially dangerous, environmentally damaging, magnets for anti-social behaviour and alienating to nationalists.
There were complaints of the burning of Sinn Fein election posters made for May's Stormont Assembly poll as well as the use of toxic tyres.
In recent years, bonfire builders have faced criticism after items linked to the nationalist/republican tradition - such as Irish flags and posters, and effigies of high-profile politicians - were placed on top of some of the fires and torched.
Last year, homes near Chobham Street in east Belfast had to be evacuated over fears the giant nearby bonfire could topple onto property.
While this year's bonfire in that neighbourhood has been moved away from those homes, and is set to be smaller in scale, the fire is still proving contentious. Equipment in a newly-built children's play park has had to be moved amid fears of damage.
At the Ballybeen bonfire at Dundonald in greater Belfast, environmental concerns about noxious fumes have been raised after footage emerged of a large number of tyres being dumped at the site for burning.
Many fires were lit late on Monday night, ushering in Tuesday's Twelfth of July parades.
Authorities in Northern Ireland are cautiously optimistic the Twelfth can pass off peacefully, but have a major policing operation planned to deal with any unrest.
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