Northern Ireland

Bonfire at car park in east Belfast is set on fire

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Media captionA bonfire in east Belfast has been set alight

A bonfire that was at the centre of a dispute between Belfast City Council and its makers has been set alight.

The site is at a public car park just off the Upper Newtownards Road in Belfast.

Belfast councillor Jim Rodgers said it was fortunate no property was damaged as a result of the blaze.

Local man Steven Roberts said he was outside his property at about 12:45 BST when he "heard the sound of fire crackling".

"When we walked out into the alleyway to see what it was I looked up and saw the flames," he said.

"The flames were just starting to go up.

"The fire engines were just arriving, but there was no one else there it was only us."

The police said its officers had attended a bonfire in Ravenscroft Street in east Belfast which had been set alight at about 00:40 BST on Wednesday.

Mr Rodgers told the Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster that it took several hours to put the blaze out.

"It was still smouldering early this morning and there were a lot of fumes in the area," he said.

"Some residents had been complaining about them (the fumes) but fortunately no-one has left their home."

He praised the "magnificent work of the fire service risking life and limb to make sure that there was no damage to property or anyone's health was going to suffer".

Row over pallets

Mr Rodgers said it was a "very big bonfire, much bigger than the previous number of years".

He said the council was still trying to get a resolution to the "bonfire situation".

"How do we handle the bonfire situation? We have had a number of suggestions, but none of them have really worked and that is the difficulty we face in the run up to 11 July."

The bonfire makers were involved in a dispute with the city council over the storing of pallets.

They said the council collected pallets from the area earlier this year, agreed to store them and return them this month but failed to do so.

Belfast City councillors have all agreed to an investigation into the collection and storing of bonfire pallets.

Traditionally, bonfires are lit in many loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the "eleventh night" - the eve of the Twelfth of July, an annual celebration to mark William of Orange's victory over King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

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