Shankill Road Bonfire Horror – I was there

Shankill Road Bonfire Horror

Take a close look at this picture…

Shankill Houe Fire

This guy was almost burnt to death trying to put out a fire in the roof of this house on the 11th and in my opinion he is the luckiest man in all of Northern Ireland today and should be thanking his lucky stars.

Seconds after this picture was taking the roof caved in and had he not move he would have fallen into the inferno that was engulfing the roof space of this house and hundreds watching would have witness someone being burnt to death and every time I think about I get shivers down my spine.

The family and I had watched a few fires in and around the Woodvale & Glenciarn before heading down to the lower Shankill to watch the main fire there , with 1000’s of others. The heat was unbelievable hot and the local council expecting this had covered the doors and windows of those houses deemed to close to the fire  with hoarding , including those houses that eventually caught fire.

As the night wore on and the fire was reaching its peak everyone was happy and celebrating the 11th bonfires , but gradually we became concerned with the vast heat coming from the fire and the showers of hot ash and  sparks that the wind was blowing towards the row of houses to the north of the fire. Gradually we noticed some a small fire in the air vents in one of the roofs and this quickly spread to three or four adjoining houses.

At this stage it was only tiny flames and no one seemed overly concerned when someone brought out a ladder and a few men/boy started  a small chain and were passing buckets of water to the guy at the top of the ladder as he tried to put the fire out.

And then things took a sinister turn. The guy at the top climb onto the roof and to all our amazement he clambered over the roof tiles to reach the small fire better. The crowd held their breath as we watched him attempt to extinguish the flames and then to our horror  he slips and one of his feet went through the tiles and  flames shot up from the loft of the house and it was immediately obvious the fire was much worse than we had thought and the whole of the loft/roof spaces were engulfed in fire and the situation was grave.

Then as the guy on the roof was trying to climb away from the hole he slipped again and almost feel into the hole and certain death and i have to say my heart was in my throat and like many in the crowd i had to look away as I had no wish to see someone die such a terrible death. Screams of terror echoed round the square and everyone present held their breaths , but thankfully he made his way back over the roof and down the ladder to relative safety on the ground.

Seconds later the roof he had been on collapsed completely and had he been still in the same position he would not have been here today as it would have been impossible  to save him and besides for some reason the fire-brigade had not yet arrived on the scene and when they did it seem to take them ages to get the equipment set up and working to deal with the fire.

Sadly this was to late for these houses.

Shankill Houe Fire

Some more pictures from the night.


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