Firefighters see double the trouble in Mid Ulster this Halloween

Fireworks seized by police in Magherafelt
Fireworks seized by police in Magherafelt

Firefighters working over Halloween in the Mid Ulster area said they have had the busiest year for call-outs and incidents since 2010.

And the number of calls - most of which were about deliberate fires - had doubled on last year’s total.

As well as suffering an attack from youths at a bonfire in Clonoe, crews also dealt with four incidents in Cookstown, two in Magherafelt, one in Maghera and eight in the Dungannon area.

In relation to the incident in Clonoe, a spokesperson for the Fire Service said they had received calls from locals concerned about a bonfire on the Moor Road just after 6pm on Halloween night.

One fire appliance from Dungannon attended, but was unable to get to the fire as “they came under attack from youths throwing fireworks”. Fire crew were “prevented from accessing the area as youths had blocked the entry route to the bonfire” they explained.

It is understood the PSNI was informed and attended the scene, but firefighters were forced to withdraw to a safe location and monitor the bonfire which by then had died down.

NIFRS said no action was taken by firefighters and that residents were advised to call again if the fire got out of hand.

Western Area Command, which Mid Ulster’s towns and villages, had 43 call-outs on Halloween night - a quarter of all reports recorded in Northern Ireland.

Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy condemned the attack on firefighters: “It’s regrettable a small number of youths fired fireworks and missiles at the fire service who are there to protect and look after local people.”

Gangs of youths were also seen throwing fireworks and squealers at roads in Cookstown and Stewartstown throughout the evening.