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Youths ambush firefighters in bonfire outrage

Dublin firemen were pelted with stones and had their fire-engine seriously damaged when they attended a scene of a Haloween bonfire.

Firefighters from the Dun Laoghaire station were called to an area in Loughlinstown where a large bonfire was alight in an area with old trees.

When they got out of the vehicle, they were quickly surrounded by young people who began to attack them, according to station officer, Glenn Sexton.

"We were ambushed," said Mr Sexton, who was at the scene. "A gang of youths just came along and started stoning the fire engine."

Thankfully, the firemen were not injured in the attack, took shelter and the gardai were on the scene within minutes after the incident occurred on Tuesday at 4pm.

"Luckily enough we retreated to the vehicle as quickly as possible," said Mr Sexton. "There was a lot of damage done to the vehicle. The front windscreen was smashed, the wing mirror and indicator lights were broken and there are a lot of dents along the side."

This is a very busy time for firemen in Dublin, as their resources are thinly stretched.

"It was very frightening, even for big men like ourselves. They were only teenagers, a gang of unruly youths," he recalled.

The Dublin Fire Brigade is one of the busiest brigades in Europe and deal with 100-200,000 calls per annum, according to firefighters at the station.

Inevitable

And another station officer at Dun Laoghaire, Justin Burnes admitted that bonfires are inevitable at this time of year, even though they are illegal.

"There is a cultural and traditional aspect to bonfires, and they are unavoidable," he said.

Mr Burns said that it is important to be aware of safety concerns and to have adequate adult supervision when there are children attending bonfires.

"We would ask that responsible adults would escort children to bonfires and that dangerous substances such as accelerants are not used," he said. "Bonfires should not be lighted near houses, trees or cables."

He also pointed out that there are increasing numbers of people who are injured every year with illegal imported fireworks.

"Do not use fireworks and always keep a safe distance from anyone who is doing so,", he advised.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council have set up a range of 'bonfire diversion programmes'.

There are activities throughout the city for young children, teenagers and families taking place this week including parades, football tournaments, discos and firework displays.

Halloween revellers were urged last night to keep their spirits in check and not engage in reckless behaviour.

Dangers

Emergency services are bracing themselves for their busiest night of the year and are asking the public to heed warnings about the dangers of fireworks and bonfires.

The Dublin Fire Brigade received 1,195 calls last year, an increase of almost 500 on 2006.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Richie Hedderman accepted that it was a fun night but stressed the need to protect the most vulnerable members of society.

"Keep children away from bonfires, keep bonfires away from buildings, keep away from illegal fireworks, keep it organised, keep it fun and most of all keep it safe," he said.


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