CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — In addition to more than 9,000 fans watching UNC win the NCAA Championship game in the Dean Dome Monday night, thousands more came out to celebrate the win on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
Just seconds after the Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga 71-65, thousands of fans swarmed Franklin Street at Columbia Street, blocking the intersection.
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.
Chapel Hill officials said Sunday two people were injured after about 12,000 people rushed Franklin Street following UNC-Chapel Hill’s victory late Saturday in the men’s basketball NCAA semifinal game. The party continued into Sunday morning, when regular traffic resumed through downtown Chapel Hill.
The town stressed ahead of Monday night’s national championship game that open fires on the town’s commercial street are illegal and dangerous. Police were on the watch Monday for fans trying to cart combustible materials into downtown Chapel Hill.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report