Hague New Year's bonfires no higher than 10 meters this year

Preparations for the New Year's bonfire on Scheveningen beach, 31 Dec 2017
Preparations for the New Year's bonfire on Scheveningen beach, 31 Dec 2017Photo: Maurits Verbiest/Wikimedia Commons

The fire department advised that the New Year's bonfires on the beaches of Scheveningen and Duindorp can be no larger than 10 meters by 10 meters. And the builders of the bonfires will have to hold to that recommendation, interim The Hague mayor Johan Remkes said at his first council meeting on Thursday. "It's that or nothing", he said, NOS reports.

The bonfire tradition was originally created to prevent disturbances in The Hague around New Year's. Last year the bonfires got completely out of hand. The fire towers were 45 meters and 48 meters high - much higher than stated in the agreements made between the municipality and the builders. The strong wind, combined with how the fire towers were built, resulted in a rain of sparks blowing over Scheveningen, causing multiple small fires.

The Dutch Safety Board investigated the incident. Among other things, the Safety Board said that the municipality knew the builders were not complying with the agreements, but did nothing about it. This devastating report played a big role in Pauline Krikke's decision to resign as mayor of The Hague.

Last year, the Scheveningen and Duindorp builders raced to see who could be the first to reach a fire tower of 35 meters high, Remkes said. They both exceeded it by at least 10 meters. "Taking the competition element out seems very sensible to me", Remkes said. "This has led to very unhealthy conditions."

On Friday, Remkes is meeting with representatives of the two foundations behind the bonfires. He will inform them of the limits set by the fire department recommendations. According to Remkes, the builders in Scheveningen have already filed for a permit to build a bonfire this New Year's. The Duindorp builders haven't yet.