Campfire Builder Dies: The council demolishes the Larne pyre after a man is killed in the fall

A bonfire in Co Antrim was taken down following the death of father-of-two John Steele, who fell off the structure on Saturday night.

The incident happened around 9.30pm at the Antiville campfire in the Larne fairway area.

Mr. Steele was a local native and was involved in building the annual bonfire for many years.

He was the father of two young daughters.

Just hours before his death, Mr Steele posted a short video of him at the fire with a number of other younger men on Facebook.

He fell over 50 feet from the top of the fire. Emergency services were called but he died at the scene.


John Steele died after falling from a campfire in Larne

Locals say there were harrowing scenes when relatives of the deceased arrived at the scene shortly after the fatal accident.

Police and rescue workers were called to the scene shortly after 9:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The campfire made of stacked wooden pallets was dismantled on Sunday. A digger was brought onto the site to dismantle it as a mark of respect to the dead man’s family. Flowers were left at the scene and the community was said to have been shocked.

The fatal fall in Antiville came as Larne had made headlines about another bonfire in the town. Builders at a nearby fire in Craigyhill added further work to the towering structure on Sunday.

It is estimated to be over 198 feet tall.

Craigyhill’s Bonfire group announced online that they would continue their attempt to break a world record in memory of Mr Steele. The fire is scheduled to be lit on Monday evening.

The police remained cautiously present at the site of the campfire on Sunday morning.


The scene where a man died after falling from a campfire on the Antiville estate in Larne, Co. Antrim

The MP for the area is Sammy Wilson, who attended the scene and said the community was in shock.

“My thoughts and condolences are with this man’s family,” said the DUP MP.

“It is a real tragedy at a special time of year for the people of the loyalist community.

“The family is well known in the area and I’m sure that will be felt strongly in the community.”

Mid and East Antrim Council Mayor Noel Williams expressed his condolences after the death. “The loss of a young man’s life in a campfire site accident in Larne is shocking and my thoughts go out to his heartbroken loved ones,” he said.

“The community is hurting and my prayers are with everyone affected by this terrible tragedy.”

Naomi Long, Stormont Justice Secretary and leader of the Alliance party, tweeted: “Heartbreaking news that a young man has lost his life falling from a campfire. Thinking of his family, friends and the wider community as they come to terms with this tragic loss of life.

“I hope people give them space to mourn privately at such a difficult time.”


Flowers next to the campfire in Larne

A vigil was planned for Sunday evening at the site.

Police are asking witnesses to come forward.

PSNI Inspector Adrian Bryan said: “We understand the man was helping to build the bonfire when this tragic accident occurred. Our thoughts are very much with his family at this time.”

John Stewart, Ulster Unionist MLA for East Antrim, said it was “absolutely tragic news and my thoughts and deepest sympathy go out to the man’s family, friends and wider community at this truly difficult time”.

“This was a terrible accident and the local community will gather to give the family as much support as possible,” he said.

“I appeal to everyone to cooperate in the investigation of what is happening.”

Foreign Minister Shailesh Vara MP said he was “saddened to learn of the tragic accident at Larne last night. My thoughts are with the man’s family, friends and community.”

Tributes were also paid by numerous loyalist organizations, including the Drumaheagles Orange Lodge and the Constable Anderson Memorial Flute Band. The band said Mr. Steele’s daughter Macy-Lee had recently joined.

“The officer and members of the Constable Anderson Memorial Band are deeply saddened by the tragic death of John Steele following an accident at a local campfire in Larne.

“The band also has close ties to the Steele family and we are especially thinking of our members Tia and Tamera Steele.”


Flowers are left at the crime scene

An online fundraiser has been launched to raise £500 for the Steele family. The JustGiving page said: “A dark cloud is hanging over our little town” and “No one is ever prepared for that news to come to your door”.

The person behind the fundraiser wrote: “So I set this up in the hope that people would donate, no matter how big or small, to give some financial relief to the family while they begin preparing for John’s funeral.

“The entire city is shocked by this devastating news and our hearts go out to Artie, Jackie, Kitty, his two daughters Caitlin and Macy-Lee, Catrina and the entire family. You will miss John very much. YNWA XX.”

Rev. Ben Preston spoke of the tragedy to the faithful at Sunday morning’s service at Craigy Hill Presbyterian Church.

“Our deepest condolences go to the family and the entire community. We are here for you, enjoy reading God’s word, pray and offer a cup of tea.

“Maybe we’ll schedule something here for the afternoon to serve around the campfire. I heard from the council that they’re going to take down the campfire, which is entirely appropriate. We are stunned and in shock at such an accident and tragedy. Keep the family, community and each other here in your prayers.” Campfire Builder Dies: The council demolishes the Larne pyre after a man is killed in the fall

Fry Electronics Team

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