Larne's Craigyhill bonfire lit as Twelfth celebrations get underway in Northern Ireland

Credit: Bohana Iva

The 'world's tallest bonfire' fell almost 30 minutes after it was set alight.

The structure in Craigyhill in Larne was lit at midnight to mark the beginning of The Twelfth celebrations.

Around 250 bonfires were lit across Northern Ireland in loyalist and unionist communities.

Hundreds of people watched on as the Craigyhill bonfire was lit with organisers confident that they had broken the world record for the tallest bonfire, after the pyre was measured at 202.3ft.

Nearby houses had their windows boarded up and the fire service hosed down properties to protect against the heat of the massive bonfire.

Craigyhill bonfire in Larne. Credit: Bohana Iva

The build-up to the "Eleventh Night" celebrations was overshadowed by the death of a bonfire builder in Co Antrim on Saturday night.

John Steele, a window cleaner who was aged in his mid-30s, was killed when he fell from a separate bonfire in Larne that stood more than 50 feet tall.

John Steele

The bonfires are traditionally ignited on the eve of the "Twelfth of July" - a day when members of Protestant loyal orders parade to commemorate the Battle of Boyne in 1690.

The battle, which unfolded at the Boyne river north of Dublin, saw Protestant King William of Orange defeat Catholic King James II to secure a Protestant line of succession to the British Crown.

The vigil was held for John Steele following his death Credit: Liam McBurney/PA

Most of the bonfires pass off every year without incident, but a number continue to be the source of controversy.

This year there have been a number of complaints from nationalist and cross-community politicians about their images being placed on the fires.

The PSNI said it was considering if any offences were committed.

Another fire lit at midnight was at Adam Street in the loyalist Tigers Bay area of north Belfast.

Nationalist residents from the nearby New Lodge estate have previously claimed the fire is located too close to the interface between the two communities - something the bonfire builders have denied.

The PSNI is planning for the Twelfth to be their busiest and most resource-intensive day of the year, with the Eleventh Night being second. There will be 2,500 police officers on duty on the Twelfth, which is around a third of the strength of the PSNI.

There will be 573 loyal order parades later. Of these, 33 follow routes that are deemed to be sensitive.

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