CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Around 55,000 people poured out onto Franklin Street Tuesday morning and seven injuries were reported in the aftermath of UNC’s win over Gonzaga in the men’s NCAA Tournament National Championship, according to Town of Chapel Hill officials.
Franklin Street immediately filled up following UNC’s win and the streets were closed to vehicular traffic so revelers could safely celebrate.
Seven injuries were reported during the celebration — four of those injured suffered burns from multiple bonfires that had been set on Franklin Street.
Chapel Hill officials already warned fans not to light bonfires on the street after the game, but by midnight fans already had three bonfires burning brightly in the intersection.
Also, by 12:05 a.m. Tuesday, young men had climbed street poles on at least three corners of the intersection and were standing on top of the walk/don’t walk signs.
The Franklin Street scene also included a plastic construction barrel, a beach ball and someone with a large umbrella.
After midnight, a large beige couch could also be seen lifted over the heads of fans — and was destined for one of three bonfires. Later, the sofa could be seen burning from the intersection.
Eventually, closer to 1 a.m. Tuesday, there was one large bonfire and fans could be seen jumping over the dangerous flames.
Then, by 1:15 a.m., the bonfires were out, the crowd had dwindled considerably and was only about halfway filling the intersection.
The streets were cleaned and reopened by 2:10 a.m. Tuesday, officials said.