Party turns into a riot in London, Ont.
The east end of London became a war zone Saturday night as hundreds of rioters in the Fanshawe College area of the city attacked police and burned vehicles.
More than 50 officers in full riot gear surrounded by an alcohol-fuelled mob on St. Patrick's Day held a one-block sector of Fleming Drive for more than an hour before being repelled by a downpour of broken glass from thrown bottle, rocks and even wooden planks torn off of fences.
A CTV truck parked in the middle of the violence was overturned and set on fire. Flames shot 20 feet into the air interspersed by violent explosions, one of which illuminated more than a block of houses in bright orange and sent many in the crowd screaming for shelter.
Even as the truck was exploding, rioters were throwing bottles of alcohol at it causing many smaller blasts, each one inciting the crowd more than the last.
Many danced around the flames, while others fed the inferno with any wood they could find to keep it ablaze. Some risked injury by tossed a couch and a mattress into it as others roared their approval.
Not long after, at least one more vehicle was torched.
A firefighter on the scene told QMI Agency that some rioters were treated for burns. It's not known how serious those injuries are.
There were no reports of police or other emergency workers being seriously hurt.
"This is awesome, isn't it?" one shirtless young man bellowed. "I've never seen anything like this."
He was asked what started it.
"Well, over there, all these cops were on the street and we just started, ah, kicking down fences and throwing the wood at the cops and they backed off and then there was the CTV over here and a couple of the boys, they just tipped it over and a couple of the other boys, they just burnt it... That's...the boys for you."
Police kept most of the mob at bay until after 11 p.m., hauling away a few young men in handcuffs, but with each one they arrested countless more bottles smashed on and around their cars.
The crowd's courage grew every time a bottle shattered on a windshield of a cruiser until police had no recourse but to retreat and leave the streets to the rioters.
The violent riot that rocked the city Saturday night may be the worst - but not the first time St. Patrick's Day celebrations have rocked London.
In fact, every year, the police roll out Project LEARN (Liquor Enforcement and Reduction of Noise) and step up their patrols in student neighbourhoods near UWO, Fanshawe and along Richmond Row to curb the rowdiness, but the results seem minimal at best.
Among residents in the area, St. Patrick's Day has become an annual horror show with no end in sight. Many said they're fed up with the booze-soaked young people and want something concrete done after this year's carnage.
Angry residents further north on Farnsborough watching the carnage blamed police for letting the situation get out of control. They said the crowd had been getting rowdier for hours and wished authorities had stepped in sooner before it was too late.
"You could see it coming," the man, who didn't want his name used, said. "Every year, something crazy happens on St. Patrick's Day. I'm fed up with it."