Bonfire Night carnage: Youths bring night of terror to community

SHOCKED residents woke to scenes of devastation yesterday morning as Bonfire Night descended into an orgy of violence across parts of the city.

Tuesday, 7th November 2017, 11:33 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:12 pm

A policewoman suffered serious burns after yobs fired fireworks at emergency workers in Pilton while cars were torched in Craigentinny.

Firefighters were attacked at a farm in Dalkeith and a skate park in Blackburn over the weekend prompting calls for tighter fireworks control.

Angry residents told how a traditional bonfire in Craigentinny was hijacked by black-clad youths in hoods with rucksacks full of fireworks.

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Alistair Clark with his Audi that was set alight. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

In a seemingly premeditated attack, residents were forced to take cover or cower in their homes as laughing yobs fired rockets at each other and passers-by.

Some said burnt-out cars reminded them of scenes following a terrorist attack or war zone – another to a Hollywood horror film.

A car was driven into a bonfire next to a playground outside Craigentinny Primary School. Two more cars were torched nearby, including one turned over in the street.

In nearby Loganlea Terrace, dozens of teenage youths fought in the streets and let off fireworks at families’ homes from about 7.30pm.

Cars engulfed by flames in Pilton. Picture: contributed

Growing ever more cocky, the youths used gas works barriers to barricade the road before dropping fireworks into open mains.

They then fired fireworks into the grounds of Craigentinny Primary School before setting fire to chef Alistair Clark’s Audi.

It comes as fire chiefs said they responded to 104 bonfire-related calls – including 57 in Edinburgh.

An emotional Alistair recounted the night’s shocking events to the Evening News by the side of the charred wreck of his A6.

Alistair Clark with his Audi that was set alight. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

“I came home at about 6.30pm and the bonfire had already started. I walked over with the missus to watch the fireworks but all of a sudden there was a massive fight,” said married Alistair, 34.

“They were firing fireworks at each other so we decided to get out of there because it was getting a bit dangerous.

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“I completely forgot I’d moved my car down the road because of the gas works.

Cars engulfed by flames in Pilton. Picture: contributed

About 11.15 I was watching TV and my mum, who lives in the next building, said my car was on fire.

“I ran out in my shorts and T-shirt and it was on fire. It’s my baby and I’ve never had any problems with it,” said Alistair, biking to work yesterday.

A set of golf clubs and tools also went up in the blaze.

“I shouted to the kids but they just said “come on then” – they’ve just got no fear.”

So devastated is Alistair by the night’s events, he now plans to leave the area with his wife.

“I’m moving,” he said. “I’ve lived here for five years and came here because my mum is elderly so I can be close if anything happens. But it’s just not safe here now.”

“I’ve never seen anything like it. I was in London for six years and was there during the bus attack,” Alistair recalled, of the 2005 terror attack in Russell Square.

“I was just around the corner and there was nowhere near as much destruction as this.”

Tory city councillor for Craigentinny, John McLellan, meanwhile, compared the scenes to the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

“It beggars belief that a residential street in Edinburgh should end up looking like Belfast during the Troubles and it’s totally unacceptable for such fear and alarm to be caused for residents,” said Cllr McLellan.

“We need a full discussion with the police and other agencies about what happened to prevent a repeat, and my ward colleagues and I are setting this up.”

Music producer Euan, 20, said: “My little sister phoned me upset to say they were firing fireworks at her – she’s only 13!

“The kids have got wild...wild.”

Some of the feral youths drove what is believed to have been a stolen Nissan Qashqai onto the bonfire before leaping out of the car as it burst into flames.

The charred wreck of the car was still atop the burnt-out fire yesterday morning.

“A man who owned one of the cars was crying,” said Euan. “He said he hardly afforded it.”

A 50-year-old woman living on her own, who was too scared to be named, said: “I heard a noise and looked out of the window and couldn’t believe it – they were driving around the field before they drove it into the fire.

“I got feart so shut the curtains. I was absolutely terrified. My wee cat was too and hid under the bed. It was like a war zone.

Mother-of-one Rose, 29, said: “It happens every year but not as bad as this – the kids get away with it.

“It’s been going on for two weeks, kids running up and down with fireworks. It’s about time the police or someone took action.”

Her friend, a 30-year-old mum-of-two, who declined to be named, likened the night’s mayhem to Hollywood movie, The Purge.

In the film, starring Ethan Hawke, a crime-ravaged society sanctions an annual 12-hour period during which all crimes are legal.

“They were just so brazen, that’s the word,” she said. “They were just doing what they wanted.

“These kids must be coming home stinking of fireworks so why are their parents letting them out again? I know some people blame the police but what can they do?”

A terrified 86-year-old said; “I’ve lived here for 30 years and it was worse than ever.”

In Pilton, youths were spotted launching wave after wave of attack with fireworks, aimed at emergency workers and residents. A 21-year-old mum-of-one told how she got off the bus on Pennywell Road at about 7.30pm to see a police car driving past with a smashed windscreen.

A burnt-out VW Polo, with scorched child’s seat in the back, lay crippled on a driveway – surrounded by used firework shells.

Police were inundated with calls and had to prioritise responses even with extra officers deployed.

Superintendent Paterson said: “As we now look to return these areas of the city to normality, I would urge anyone with 
information about the incidents in Muirhouse and Craigentinny to please come forward.

“Undoubtedly, local communities will know who is responsible and I urge them to share this with us to assist our investigations.

“My officers are proud to serve their communities and I know that our communities across the city are also proud of where they live and work.

“I want to assure them all that we will continue to work together to support them. We will provide updates on our investigation when we can.”

Four teenagers, aged between 14 and 17, have been charged with offences in relation to the incidents around Craigentinny.

Anyone with information can contact Drylaw and Craigmillar Police Stations by calling 101 or anonymously through the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting reference 3833 (Muirhouse) or 4115 (Craigentinny) of Sunday, November 5.