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Parts of five storey block in danger of collapse

Borough: Wigan

Incident Date: 14 June 2015


RESIDENTS evacuated in a fire in a five-storey block of flats have now been told that parts of the structure are so damaged that even firefighters cannot go in to continue battling the blaze.

Hundreds of people were awoken by the fire alarm sounding in Wharfside in Heritage Way, Wigan, just before 4am when a fire broke out in a flat on the top floor.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service very quickly mobilised 15 fire engines and seven other specialist vehicles to the scene and tackled the flames from inside the building, on the roof and from specialist aerial platforms.

But the fire spread within the building, which is described as a complex and mainly timber construction, and firefighters have now withdrawn from many parts of it for fear it may collapse. It remains visibly burning at the scene and smoke can be seen pluming over Wigan for many miles.

County Fire Officer and Chief Executive Peter O’Reilly told residents staying in a make shift rescue centre established in The Mill at the Pier next door that about one third of them may never return to their flats.

He said: “There is a large part of the building, where the fire broke out, which is now too dangerous for even firefighters to go into. This building is in danger of collapsing. Residents who live in this part may not ever be allowed back in.”

Peter told residents the adjoining part of the building, which is an ‘L’ shape, that they may be able to return but not today. Those living in the bottom section, at a right angle from the affected wing and the Leeds to Liverpool Canal, should be able to return as it has only been “slightly affected”.

GMFRS, Wigan Council, Greater Manchester Police and colleagues from North West Ambulance Service have been trying to support residents as much as possible.

Peter told the group: “If you have something in particular in a flat that you would like us to get out, we will do our best. I cannot guarantee anything but if we can get it at some point and save it, we will. I’m so sorry. We have done and continue to do our best but this has been a complex fire and our firefighters have battled through very difficult conditions.”

Fire investigators from GMFRS are at the scene but no cause has yet been established.


Last update: 23/03/2016 08:19:41
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