Homes gutted by loyalist bonfire cost taxpayers £90,000 to repair

Posted By: September 19, 2016

Distributed by Irish National Caucus

Orange bonfires not only pollute the political atmosphere but the physical one as well.They are also a great danger to safety and security of persons and property.

Why do adult  Orange Protestants/Unionists insist on this atavistic behavior in the 21st Century?

Brendan Hughes. Irish News (Belfast). Monday, September 19, 2016

 PROBLEMS PYRES Terraced houses at Hopewell Square damaged
 in a blaze sparked by a loyalist Eleventh Night bonfire in July Picture: Hugh Russell 
HOUSES gutted in a blaze sparked by a loyalist bonfire have cost taxpayers £90,000 to repair.

The terraced properties in west Belfast’s Shankill area were damaged in July when embers from a nearby bonfire apparently blew onto the roofs.

Shocked eyewitnesses had told how the roofs started smouldering before caving in as families were moved from their homes.

A 72-year-old woman and her two-year-old great-granddaughter were among those asleep in their beds when sparks ignited their home and they had to be rescued.

In total five properties at Hopewell Square were affected – four managed by the Housing Executive and one owned privately.

The Housing Executive has now confirmed the bill for repairing its four properties is around £90,000.

The vast bulk of the spending has been on three of the properties that were severely damaged, while the fourth had minor works for smoke damage.

A spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that approximately £90,000 was spent on our three properties.

“The opportunity was taken to make improvements to kitchens and bathrooms whilst we carry out the work.
“This work is ongoing and we hope to have one of our tenants back in their home in the very near future.”

The roofs of the most severely damaged houses have been repaired, but workmen were still on site last week carrying out renovations inside the properties.
Ahead of the Eleventh Night, the housing body had spent £1,430 boarding up the row of 11 homes in an unsuccessful bid to prevent them catching fire.
More than 300 bonfires were lit across Northern Ireland ahead of this year’s Twelfth of July.

The Irish News revealed earlier this year that the Fire Service spent almost £670,000 of taxpayer funds tackling Eleventh Night bonfires between 2010 and 2015.

Fire crews were called out to 250 bonfire-related incidents over the period.

The most common location where firefighters were called out to July bonfire-related incidents was beside Belfast City Hospital.

On seven occasions crews were called out to Coolfin Street, off Donegall Road in the Village area of south Belfast, to tackle problem pyres.

In the past, the bonfire has prompted safety fears and caused traffic problems in 2009 when the towering 40-foot structure toppled onto Donegall Road.

Police said they logged 40 reports of incidents relating to bonfires over this year’s Twelfth period.

In one incident in Newtownards police appealed for information after a teenager was left with “horrific” injuries following a fight at a bonfire.

There was also controversy this year around the burning of tyres, election posters and tricolours on pyres, with some reported to police as hate crimes.

The height and location of some pyres caused outrage with numerous towering structures built in the middle of urban streets.

One controversial pyre was constructed close to a new children’s play park at Chobham Street in east Belfast.

It cost the council £6,000 to move the children’s play equipment away.