Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds of pallets set on fire in suspected arson attack

Hundreds of pallets at a bonfire site in east Belfast have been set alight
Hundreds of pallets at a bonfire site in east Belfast have been set alight
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Police have appealed for information after hundreds of pallets were set alight in east Belfast.

The blaze at the Avoniel bonfire site was reported in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Event organisers said on their Facebook page they were "devastated" by the incident along with the young people who helped to collect the wood.

PSNI Inspector Pollock said: "The incident was reported to us in the early hours of this morning, just before 12.30am.

"Firefighters extinguished the fire, in which a collection of pallets had been set alight and destroyed.

"Thankfully, there were no reports of nearby properties damaged or anyone injured."

Titanic DUP councillor George Dorrian described the fire as "madness".

"The youngsters had the pallets stored there for the bonfires but someone has just torched the lot of them," he said.

"We have no idea who it was yet. The thing I have about it is they did this without knowing how far the fire could spread.

"It's the first time I remember this at Avoniel. The Bloomfield Walkway bonfire was set alight early last year. The difference here is these pallets were just being stored there and hadn't yet been built up."

He added: "The only thing you can tell the people who do this is to wise up. The wood is dry and in this weather once a fire starts you can't control it."

The bonfire group is one of 13 in the East Belfast Cultural Collective recently set up to promote "the positive celebration of unionist culture" and "offer advocacy support to isolated or smaller bonfires who have been targeted by statutory agencies".

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