Northern Ireland

Bonfire towers near Carrickfergus petrol station

Petrol station with bonfire in background, Carrickfergus, 7 July 2017 Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption The bonfire has been built with hundreds of wooden pallets

A towering bonfire has been built across the road from a County Antrim petrol station.

The bonfire, made of wooden pallets, has been built on a grass verge at Prince Andrew Way in Carrickfergus.

The NI Fire and Rescue Service said it was working with the local community "to provide safety advice in relation to the Castlemara bonfire".

The bonfire, estimated to be about 50ft (15m) tall, is roughly twice the height of a two-storey house.

Bonfires are traditionally lit in loyalist areas of Northern Ireland on the eve of the annual 12 July celebrations marking King William III's victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

'Explosive vapours'

The council-led Mid and East Antrim Bonfire Liaison Group has also been involved in talks about the bonfire, concerns about which were first reported by the Irish News.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption The bonfire dominates the skyline on Prince Andrew Way in Carrickfergus

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Walmsley advised bonfire builders to keep the structures "at a manageable size and sited in a clear, open space at a safe distance from buildings and overhead cables".

"A bonfire should be a minimum distance of five times its height from property," he said.

"It should not contain any potentially hazardous materials or tyres and never use flammable liquids such as petrol or paraffin as these can produce explosive vapours."

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption The fire service advises a bonfire should be a minimum distance of five times its height from property

Ch Insp Stephen Humphries said the police would work closely with partner agencies and local communities to address concerns linked to bonfires.

"Constructive dialogue and engagement involving the community, politicians, public bodies and police is the approach most likely to result in workable solutions on bonfire issues," he said.

"The physical removal of bonfire material is not a matter for police, however we will assist other statutory bodies to carry out their duties subject to the prevailing circumstances."

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