Belfast Telegraph

Video: Night of chaos: Fire crews attacked, vehicles hijacked and burnt, roads blocked and airport disrupted on night of mayhem

By Gillian Halliday and Allan Preston

The Eleventh Night celebrations descended into violence in parts of Belfast and Co Down last night.

LATEST: East Belfast UVF exploits at odds with rule of law pledge: Police

There was major disruption as cars and buses were torched on roads, and Belfast City Airport was placed under lockdown for a while as police dealt with a suspicious object on the Sydenham bypass.

Fire crews were attacked in Derry, Dungannon and at Whitehead, although none were injured.

The Fire Service said it had received a total of 327 emergency calls between 6pm and 1am today. That was a 23% increase on last year.

Fire crews were called out to 164 incidents, 57 bonfire-related, in the same period.

The violence erupted just hours after the PSNI warned that the east Belfast UVF had threatened to "orchestrate and participate in serious disorder" against its officers.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd had said: "Police have received information from the community which indicates that the East Belfast UVF intend to orchestrate and participate in serious disorder in east Belfast this evening directed against my officers."

That threat followed a day of tension after masked contractors escorted by police officers cleared two loyalist bonfire sites amid fears of potential damage to property.

Earlier vehicles were brought to a standstill on the Sydenham bypass as police responded to a security alert.

People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Pacemaker: Arthur Allison.
People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Pacemaker: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 11-07-2018: People pictured enjoying the Kilcooley bonfire in Bangor Co Down, Northern Ireland. Bonfires are traditionally lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the Eleventh Night - the eve of the Twelfth of July. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The replacement bonfire at the Walkway - relocated to Connswater shopping centre is lit in Belfast on July 12th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A man scales an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
A firefighter attends to an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
An EU flag is burned on an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Police deal with a suspect car in the Newtownards road area in east Belfast. Niall Carson/PA Wire
A man lights an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
People attend an 11th night Bonfire in the Sandy Row area of Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2018. Hundreds of bonfires were set to be lit at midnight as part of a loyalist tradition to mark the anniversary of the Protestant King William's victory over the Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. See PA story ULSTER Bonfires. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The replacement bonfire at the Walkway - relocated to Connswater shopping centre is lit in Belfast on July 12th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
The replacement bonfire at the Walkway - relocated to Connswater shopping centre is lit in Belfast on July 12th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Pacemaker Press 11/07/2018 The 11th night Bonfire near the Connswater shopping centre in East Belfast , after the Bonfire at Cluan Place was removed. Pic Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 11/07/2018 The 11th night Bonfire near the Connswater shopping centre in East Belfast , after the Bonfire at Cluan Place was removed. Pic Pacemaker
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of a small bonfire off Templemore Avenue, Newtownards Road in East Belfast. It comes after the PSNI issued a notice informing the public that paramilitaries intend to orchestrate serious disorder against police officers on the Eleventh night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Pacemaker Press 11/07/2018 The 11th night Bonfire near the Connswater shopping centre in East Belfast , after the Bonfire at Cluan Place was removed. Pic Pacemaker
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Hope Street bonfire at Sandy Row in South Belfast. It comes after the PSNI issued a notice informing the public that paramilitaries intend to orchestrate serious disorder against police officers on the Eleventh night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view of the Hope Street bonfire at Sandy Row in South Belfast. It comes after the PSNI issued a notice informing the public that paramilitaries intend to orchestrate serious disorder against police officers on the Eleventh night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view fire officers cooling down a building at the Hope Street bonfire at Sandy Row in South Belfast. It comes after the PSNI issued a notice informing the public that paramilitaries intend to orchestrate serious disorder against police officers on the Eleventh night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view fire officers cooling down a building at the Hope Street bonfire at Sandy Row in South Belfast. It comes after the PSNI issued a notice informing the public that paramilitaries intend to orchestrate serious disorder against police officers on the Eleventh night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 General view fire officers cooling down a building at the Hope Street bonfire at Sandy Row in South Belfast. It comes after the PSNI issued a notice informing the public that paramilitaries intend to orchestrate serious disorder against police officers on the Eleventh night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Police at the scene of a security alert in the Newtownards road area of Belfast on July 11th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Police at the scene of a security alert in the Newtownards road area of Belfast on July 11th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Police and ATO at the scene of a security alert in the Ravenhill Avenue area of Belfast on July 11th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Police and ATO at the scene of a security alert in the Ravenhill Avenue area of Belfast on July 11th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Police and ATO at the scene of a security alert in the Ravenhill Avenue area of Belfast on July 11th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 A car burns in in East Belfast this evening on the Upper Newtownards Road. It comes after the PSNI issued a notice informing the public that paramilitaries intend to orchestrate serious disorder against police officers on the Eleventh night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 11th July 2018 A car burns in in East Belfast this evening on the Upper Newtownards Road. It comes after the PSNI issued a notice informing the public that paramilitaries intend to orchestrate serious disorder against police officers on the Eleventh night. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast.
11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast. Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com
11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast. Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com
11th July 2018 - Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com 11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast.
11th July 2018 - Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com 11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast.
11th July 2018 - Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com 11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast.
11th July 2018 - Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com 11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast.
11th July 2018 - Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com 11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Mount Vernon, North Belfast
11th July 2018 - Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com 11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast.
11th July 2018 - Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com 11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Sandy Row, South Belfast.
11th July 2018 - Picture by Matt Mackey / PressEye.com 11th night bonfires are prepared around Belfast as July 12th draws near. Mount Vernon, North Belfast

Passengers and visitors were held inside the Belfast City Airport terminal until the alert was declared over an hour later.

Masked men also obstructed the main route to the Ulster Hospital by pushing a vehicle onto the Upper Newtownards Road close to the junction with Robbs Road at around 9.45pm.

Police and firefighters were also called to tackle cars on fire nearby on the Carrowreagh Road. Minutes later a suspected device, contained in an abandoned Vauxhall car, was discovered on the Lower Newtownards Road, close to Connswater shopping centre, prompting the area to be cordoned off close to midnight.

The complex is also where a makeshift bonfire had been erected after the Bloomfield pyre was lit early.

Meanwhile, in Co Down emergency services tackled two separate incidents in Newtownards at around 7.30pm.

An Ulsterbus carrying passengers was hijacked in the West Winds estate by a gang of masked men - one brandishing a suspected firearm - at around 7.30pm. It was then set on fire.

At the same time tyres were set alight on Messines Road, blocking the route to motorists.

Drivers also faced disruption in Bangor, with reports that the main Bangor to Belfast dual carriageway, near the loyalist Kilcooley estate, was blocked by tyres set on fire and at the nearby Sainsbury's close to the ringroad.

The east Belfast PUP councillor John Kyle appealed for calm for the remainder of the July celebrations and called the attack on Clandeboye Drive "deplorable".

"Things are more difficult now because of the events of the last 24 hours, it has caused some tension," he said.

"I think most people though are determined to enjoy themselves, it's an important celebration for loyalist communities.

"They've put a lot of work and preparation into it."

A bus which was set on fire in Newtownards
A bus which was set on fire in Newtownards
The Cluan Place bonfire in east Belfast which was toppled by a forklift truck before contractors removed the material
Police officers in the Clandeboye area of the Short Strand after a device exploded in a street close to Cluan Place
The bonfire at Bloomfield Walkway which was set alight hours after a court ordered that it be reduced in height
Two cars which were burnt out on the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast.
Passengers who faced disruption after a security alert outside George Best Belfast City Airport
Police at the scene of a security alert on Ravenhill Avenue last night

Tensions had been high in east Belfast yesterday after the High Court had ordered the height of a massive bonfire on Bloomfield Walkway to be reduced to 3 metres. But the huge pyre was set alight in the early hours.

Later, contractors guarded by police moved into Cluan Place, also in the east of the city, to remove an unsafe bonfire threatening property.

A pipe bomb was thrown over a peace wall nearby into Clandeboye Drive in the mainly nationalist Short Strand, hitting the roof of a terraced house before exploding on a Vauxhall Zafira.

Moments earlier two children aged three and four had been playing outside.

Their mother said she was terrified for her children's safety.

"My car's destroyed, it's a write-off. There's parts of the device still in the vehicle so police have taken it off," she said.

"I'm leaving tonight, I can't keep my children here it's far too dangerous for them.

"They could have been killed, two seconds ago they were standing there."

Armed police remained on the street yesterday afternoon, with scorch marks from the explosion still visible on the ground.

"They don't care who they kill or what they destroy," the young mother said of the attackers.

"I'm absolutely traumatised, I won't feel safe to come back for a few days.

"I've just moved here and I'll be moving away now. I can't stay here with my children, it's too dangerous."

Her next door neighbour said there had also been golf balls and rocks thrown over the wall the night before around 11.30pm.

"It's a disgrace and it's all because their bonfire was knocked down. But why turn on us?

"We didn't do it, it's a disgrace. It's reckless endangerment and they don't care about anyone."

Another resident recalled: "We were just sitting in our houses and it came out and hit a car in the street. The noise was so frightening and the smoke was everywhere.

"Everyone came running out, it was just terrifying. There were no children playing outside at the time, thank God because they would have been killed stone dead."

Sinn Fein councillor Mairead O'Donnell called it a "reckless and indiscriminate attack".

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