As part of a yearly Ulster Protestant celebration, Eleventh Night bonfires are lit across Northern Ireland.
This year, on the night before The Twelfth day in July, firefighters received 123 calls, of which 42 were bonfire related.
One of them, in Belfast, resulted in two terraced houses being gutted and a third home damaged. Although investigations are ongoing, it is suspected that burning embers from a nearby bonfire are the cause.
Alan Walmsley, of Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, said “We believe there could have been the potential for hot burning embers being carried by wind landing on the roof and then making their way down and falling into the roof.
However, it was the quick work of fire crews which prevented the whole row of houses getting destroyed.
Bonfire events are often well attended by families, whether it’s bonfire night or any other celebration. And it’s vital that safety is the number one concern at such times.
But bonfires are lit throughout the year for a variety of different purposes as well.
Whatever the reason for you lighting a bonfire, and whatever size it is, here are some tips for remaining safe and keeping it under control.
- Build bonfires in a safe location, away from danger.
- Ensure that your bonfire is stable and remember to never light it with flammable liquid.
- Keep everyone well back and ensure children are supervised at all times.
- Always pour water on the embers before leaving the bonfire when it has finished.
- Be ready and know how to extinguish a fire in an emergency.
When planning where to have the bonfire, you need to literally take everything into consideration. You need to choose a large area clear of obstruction, and well away from houses, buildings, garages, sheds, fences, overhead cables, trees, shrubs, cars, and roads.
However, it’s also really important to consider the wind direction and intensity. If it’s too windy, then it’s not worth the potential hazards and should instead put it off until another night.
You also need to make sure there are plenty of ways for everyone to safely exit in an emergency. But you also need to have a fire extinguisher close to hand. That way, you can quickly put out any embers, sparks or anything that may drop down.
And before you leave, you must ensure the bonfire is completely extinguished. Pour water over the area to cool it and put out any remaining embers.