11 July 2022

Council launches investigation into fatal bonfire fall

11 July 2022

A council has launched an investigation into the death of a man who fell from a bonfire built on its land.

John Steele was helping to construct the towering pyre in the Antiville estate in Larne, Co Antrim, when the incident happened on Saturday night.

The bonfire, constructed from stacked wooden pallets, was more than 50ft tall.

The bonfire on the Antiville estate before it was dismantled (PA) (PA Wire)

It was located on land owned by Mid and East Antrim Council.

The bonfire was one of around 250 that have been built in loyalist areas across Northern Ireland to usher in the main date in the Protestant loyal order parading season – the Twelfth of July.

Mr Steele, a window cleaner aged in his 30s, was pronounced dead at the scene. He was from the Antiville area.

The bonfire was taken down on Sunday afternoon and the remnants were set alight at a vigil for Mr Steele on Sunday night.

A vigil was held for John Steele on Sunday night (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

The council confirmed on Monday that an investigation had been instigated into the fatal fall.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened at the death of a young man in Larne on Saturday night and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this awful time,” it said in a statement.

“Mid and East Antrim Borough Council works closely with relevant statutory partners and the community in relation to bonfires throughout the area.

“(The) council has developed a Cultural Celebrations Working Group with the aim of strengthening partnerships between local community leaders and statutory partners to encourage safe and responsible cultural celebrations.

“Whilst the construction and lighting of bonfires are not council-managed events, on an ongoing basis we work closely with the community and provide any support we can.

“As this tragedy occurred on council land, we have launched an investigation.”

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