PA and Q Radio
A controversial loyalist bonfire that a High Court judge had ordered to be reduced in size has been torched prematurely.
The huge pyre in east Belfast was set alight in the early hours of Wednesday.
The Bloomfield Walkway bonfire was one of hundreds across Northern Ireland due to be burned late on Wednesday night as part of the annual Battle of the Boyne commemorations.
But it was ignited almost 24 hours early amid a tense stand-off between police and loyalist youths.
More than 100 police in riot gear were on site overnight.
I’m at the scene in Bloomfield Walkway where an 11th night bonfire has been set alight early after a court order to reduce it in size. I understand police are beginning to find petrol bombs hidden nearby. Hundreds of riot police in place. pic.twitter.com/3L5myD03qv— David Hunter (@davidhunter7) July 11, 2018
The episode unfolded after the judge's decision at Belfast High Court on Tuesday evening.
The bonfire has caused controversy in recent years due to its proximity to houses.
On Tuesday morning, Belfast City Council urged the bonfire builders to remove excess material, saying it had been measured and it was too tall.
Intense heat melting the tarmac near the Bloomfield Walkway bonfire in East Belfast. Smell of smoke and @NIFRSOFFICIAL foam in the air. Residents have mixed views on events overnight. Hear more @goQradio @qnewsdesk throughout the day. pic.twitter.com/2qwY0TpYWC— David Hunter (@davidhunter7) July 11, 2018
The council applied to Belfast High Court for an injunction to force the Department for Infrastructure, which owns the land the bonfire is built on, to reduce the height of the pyre.
Mrs Justice Keegan directed the department to take immediate steps amid claims the controversial 80 pallet-high construction poses a serious threat to surrounding homes.
In 2015 more than 50 homes close to the Walkway bonfire were boarded up to protect them from the heat generated when it was lit.
The site of the bonfire had been moved in the last two years amid community concern about its proximity to houses.