Northern Ireland

Articlave bonfire: 300 homes to lose power due to bonfire risk

Image caption Bonfires are traditionally lit in many unionists areas across Northern Ireland on the night of 11 July

Hundreds of homes will be without electricity on the night of 11 July because of the risks posed by a bonfire built close to overhead power lines.

The bonfire has been erected in the County Londonderry village of Articlave, and is sited on land belonging to the Housing Executive.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has written to about 300 customers living in the housing estate to inform them.

NIE has urged people to keep bonfires at a safe distance from power lines.

'Repairs'

The firm's communications manager, Julia Carson, said they had taken the decision to remove overhead lines in Articlave for a few hours on Thursday night due to safety concerns.

She said they had explained to affected residents that if the lines stayed up and caught fire, then the repairs would take more time, leaving their homes without power for a longer period.

Bonfires are lit in many unionist areas across Northern Ireland on the night of 11 July, as part of the annual Battle of the Boyne commemorations.

In a wider bonfire safety appeal, an NIE spokesperson said: "We have had reports of bonfires being erected under or close to high voltage electricity lines.

'Hidden hazards'

"This is a very dangerous practice as the smoke and heat from bonfires can cause electrical arcing and sparking, and in some cases lines may be brought down by the fire."

The statement added: "Bonfires also need to be kept clear of hidden hazards, such as trees which might have electricity lines running close to them. Electricity can jump gaps so you don't need to come into direct contact with live equipment to risk electrocution."

The spokesperson said: "We are working with the local communities and elected representatives to highlight the dangers but, in some cases, we may need to cut electricity supplies and customers in the area may be without electricity until the danger has passed and NIE emergency crews have completed any repairs and safety checks."

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