Update - Since the Monarch Street bonfire was part of the Belfast City Council management programme - which provides grant assistance in return for socially and environmentally responsible bonfires (ie, no tyres, no burning flags etc) - the council are sending up one of their beacons to this site for this evening. You can see pictures of the beacon ... and their replacement bonfire - on a second post.
The plume of smoke above RISE this morning was the result of an early-morning arson attack on the Monarch Street bonfire rather than an out of control BBQ in the middle of Broadway roundabout.
There was disappointment and a hint of anger in the voices of the group of teenagers who were the first to arrive at the Donegall Road/Broadway bonfire this morning. Days of effort destroyed.
Sixteen hours early, someone – and fingers were pointing at another community – had lit the unguarded bonfire. The blaze was well underway when the fire truck arrived, briefly pausing before driving off.
What the pictures can’t depict is the wall of heat that hits you – even at that distance – and the stench (most likely of tyres). Update - probably not tyres as the bonfire was part of the management programme run by Belfast City Council.
The Monarch Street residents will have a quieter than expected Eleventh Night.
Update on RISE - Belfast City Council confirm that work on the main sculpture has now finished, and the footpaths across Broadway roundabout will shortly be reinstated. An “official opening” event is planned for mid-September, when a time capsule will be buried on the site and the lights will be switched on.