Two injured in fire at Bolton student flats
15 November 2019, 22:11 | Updated: 16 November 2019, 13:37
Two people have been injured after a huge blaze erupted at a block of student flats in Bolton.
Paramedics treated two people after the fire at The Cube in Greater Manchester, including one person rescued by crews via an aerial platform.
Images posted on social media showed firefighters tackling the blaze on the top floors of a six-storey building on Bradshawgate at around 8.30pm on Friday night.
About 100 students are thought to live at the privately owned building and authorities are still attempting to confirm everyone is accounted for.
Speaking at the scene, Assistant chief Fire Officer Dave Keelan, from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We are going to continue to be here throughout the day and working very closely with the building owner to move this forward in the coming days.
"One thing I would like to just confirm, and allay any fears, is this cladding on this building was not the same cladding that was on Grenfell.
"I really want to praise the actions of my firefighters and officers last night.
"Their early intervention and quick decision-making that evacuated this building at pace early on in the incident has made a real difference to the outcome today.
"Crews continued throughout the night in really difficult circumstances and situations. You can see the result this morning where the fire is extinguished and the crews are just working now to identify any hot spots.
"We have done some extensive work with Greater Manchester Police, the university and the building owner throughout the night and this morning.
"We have identified and we do know everyone who resided in the building.
"We are still working through to contact everyone who lived at the premises at the minute so we cannot confirm everyone is accounted for. Work is ongoing to do that."
One eyewitness described the fire as "crawl[ing] up the cladding like it was nothing".
Ace Love, 35, said: "The fire kept getting more intense, climbing up and to the right because the wind was blowing so hard.
"We could see it bubbling from the outside and then being engulfed.
"A lot of students got out very fast, someone was very distressed, the rest were on phones calling for help.
"The fire got worse and worse, to the point where you could see through the beams, it was just bare frame."
University of Bolton student Shannon Parker, 22, who lives in the building, said: "I was in my room whilst it was happening.
“I heard the fire alarm going off but it kept on going off so I just thought it was a drill at first until one of my flatmates shouted down the corridor that it was a real fire.
"So I ran out the flat as quickly as I could and I saw that it was one of the flats below mine and we went out by the fire exit."
Kate, who lives in the student flats, told LBC News: "I was having a nap and woke up to an alarm, but then it went straight off.
"That happens quite a lot in our building so we all ignore it.
"After that, the fire alarms didn't even go off again."
She continued: "I then heard my friend scream, 'It's real!' so I went out and we saw smoke so I ran back in and banged on my flatmate's doors.
"It took people banging on doors and screaming 'It's a real fire!' to get everyone out.
"A guy went in with an extinguisher to try and help but we could see it was too much, so we shouted at him to get out as well."
Thank you to the 40 fire crews who tackled the #BoltonFire and the emergency services who treated people at the student accommodation.— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 16, 2019
If reports are correct and flammable cladding contributed to the fire, it shows the government's shameful inaction since Grenfell.
She said she was being relocated to either a nearby hotel or another student accommodation building.
Authorities have asked residents of The Cube to register at the nearby Orlando Village student accommodation facility.
"We have divided the fire itself into four sectors of firefighting, allowing us to target our efforts on particular hotspots," GMFRS area manager Jim Hutton said in a statement.
"While the building does remain on fire, we are doing all we can to stay on top of this situation and soon extinguish the flames."
Professor George E Holmes DL, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said: "Supporting the welfare of our students is our number one priority and we have moved swiftly to assist in any way we can.
"University colleagues have worked through the night to make sure support is in place for students over the weekend.
"We have assisted in ensuring students have been given temporary alternative accommodation at the Orlando student halls and in some Bolton hotels.
"We have also arranged to provide necessities such as toiletries for all students affected and are opening the University over the weekend so students can be supported. We will also provide food for them.
"I would like to stress that The Cube is not owned by the University of Bolton. It is owned and managed by a private landlord and the students were not on our premises when during this incident.”