City was left with no cover during bonfires

The bonfire stack in the Fountain last summer.
The bonfire stack in the Fountain last summer.
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Derry City has been left with no Fire Service cover due to resources being tied up with bonfires and emergency incidents in other areas, a senior officer has warned.

The Fire Service said this has happened on two occasions over recent times in the city.

Western District Commander Mark Deeney said that while a contingent of the local crew were engaged at a bonfire in the Bogside, the remaining local fire officers were tasked to rescue people trapped in a house fire in Lettershandoney.

A similar scenario played out at a bonfire in the Fountain when remaining officers were called to a fatal road traffic collision in Burnfoot, again leaving Derry without fire cover.

Speaking about the use of resources to deal with bonfires, he said: “The knock on effect of this is huge.”

Speaking about concerns with regards to the Fountain, Mr. Deeney said that the close proximity of the Fountain bonfire to the Old Fire Station building had the potential damage from radiated heat.

He added that in 2015 there was “an appearance of 100s of tyres” which when burned resulted in a blaze with a much higher temperature and a lot of acrid smoke which smouldered for days.

He said that the storage of tyres in the school grounds and the erection of barriers to protect them presented major hazard for the school.

Mr Deeney said that there had been good progress has been made in relation to the staging of future bonfires in the Fountain since.

DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock said that “engagement is the way forward”, adding that she was glad to hear there have been moves in the Fountain, with young people gathering money to ensure there is safer materials used this year.

“What happened with the tyres last year was wrong,” she said.