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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 July, 2003, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
Youth injured at bonfire
An Eleventh Night bonfire on the Shankill Road in Belfast
Bonfires are traditionally held the night before 12 July celebrations
A 17-year-old Londonderry youth is in a stable condition after suffering burns injuries at an Eleventh Night bonfire.

Three people were injured when highly flammable liquid was thrown into the bonfire and caused an explosion at Newbuildings on Friday.

Bonfires are traditionally held on the night before the Orange Order's annual 12 July parades to commemorate William of Orange's 1690 Battle of the Boyne victory over Catholic King James II.

The youth is being treated at the burns unit of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

A six-year-old girl was treated in hospital for shock following the blast, which smashed windows in a number of houses.

DUP Alderman William Hay, who left the bonfire shortly before the incident, said it was fortunate no-one was killed.

"You could see last night, quite obviously there was something in the fire that caused a huge explosion," he said.

"We are very lucky that we are not looking at a fatality. It was very very dangerous, and we were lucky that more people weren't hurt.

"Once again, there is the clear lesson that we must try and take ownership of these bonfires."

Mr Hay said people often used bonfires as dumps, which was potentially dangerous if no-one knew what had been left for burning.
We are very lucky that we are not looking at a fatality
William Hay
Democratic Unionist
The Fire Service responded to 327 emergency call-outs on Friday - an increase of about 20% on last year's figure.

The fires blazed across Northern Ireland from early evening.

Many were out of control during the peak 2200 BST to midnight, with the Fire Service recording 86 emergencies - almost double the figure for the same two-hour period last year.

In Bushmills, County Antrim, a fire unit was attacked as it arrived at the scene of a bonfire.

A fire officer was treated in hospital for an eye injury.

In Belfast, one of Northern Ireland's busiest roads, the Westlink, had to be closed for two hours after midnight because of a fire at Roden Street.

Orangemen prepare for parades
12 Jul 03  |  Northern Ireland

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