Belfast Telegraph

Residents at Portadown flats told to leave homes due to danger posed by bonfire

The Corcrain Drive bonfire in 2018. Credit: Youtube
The Corcrain Drive bonfire in 2018. Credit: Youtube
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

Residents at a block of flats in Portadown have been told to leave their homes on July 10 due to the risk posed from a nearby bonfire.

The South Ulster Housing Association (SUHA) have sent a letter to residents in the Corcrain Drive/Redmanville area offering them alternative accommodation for a night in the Armagh City Youth Hostel.

It came to light after the letter, sent to residents on July 5, was posted on social media by UUP MLA Doug Beattie.

In the letter to residents SUHA said that Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council had contacted them to advise them that the construction of the bonfire was not organised and was not being managed by the council.

It is understood that council leaders and political representatives are meeting with the police and the fire service on Monday evening to discuss the issue.

SUAH said that the bonfire was being built "without council permission, authority or consent".

The letter stated that the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) advised the council that "the distance of a bonfire to the nearest property should be five times the height of the bonfire".

It said that the distance between the block of flats and the bonfire was "well short of the minimum distance considered safe" and that the "bonfire poses a serious health and safety risk to residents and poses a risk of damage to your property".

Given the expected size of the bonfire the council advised SUHA to evacuate residents from the block of flats concerned, however it said it was "taking all reasonable and practicable steps to reduce the risk posed by the construction and the anticipated burning of the material at the site".

SUHA "strongly recommended" that residents accepted the offer of temporary accommodation and said it would also provide travel and sustenance costs.

They said that they would work with the PSNI and NIFRS to implement an action plan on July 10 and stressed that the bonfire was outside their control.

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said that the situation was "not acceptable".

"When the elderly or vulnerable are affected it is beyond a display of identity and culture," he wrote on Twitter.

The South Ulster Housing Association, Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service could not be reached for comment.  

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