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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 July, 2005, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Residents allowed home after fire
Firefighters were called to "a very severe" blaze
Firefighters were called to "a very severe" blaze
All of the people moved from their homes during a major fire in east Belfast have been allowed back into their houses.

One hundred and fifteen houses in Avoniel Parade, Avoniel Drive and Avoniel Road were evacuated after the fire started in a garage on Friday.

At the height of the fire gas cylinders exploded threatening dozens of houses.

However, residents whose homes back onto the garage have been told not to go out the back of the houses.

Some of the families moved from the area were put up overnight at the nearby Avoniel Leisure Centre.

Betty Bartley's home was one of the first to be evacuated, and she was among those who spent the night in the centre.

"A lot of people went to people's houses, they didn't want to go down to the centre," she said.

Betty Bartley
Betty Bartley had to spend the night in a leisure centre

"The ones at the far side (of the houses) were out but they're back in. They said they had a good night's sleep, but I was up at half-past-three this morning, I couldn't sleep."

Fire Service area commander Chris Kerr said the fact houses close to the garage were still standing was a tribute to the courage of his firefighters.

He said when crews arrived just after 1430 BST they found a "very severe" fire in a garage which was threatening to spread rapidly to other garages.

"The houses adjacent to those garages were threatened by fire, the flames were literally bouncing off the roofs," Mr Kerr said.

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