UK Politics

Investigation into why student flats fire spread ‘extremely quickly’

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Experts are investigating why a fire at a student accommodation block spread so quickly, the fire service has said.

Two people were injured after the large blaze broke out at a six-storey student accommodation block known as The Cube in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Speaking at the scene afterwards, assistant chief fire officer Dave Keelan said: "The fire spread extremely quickly.

Image: Firefighters tackled flames on the top floor of the student accommodation building

"That's why I can't praise the firefighters enough for initiating a full evacuation as soon as they got here but the fire did spread extremely quickly throughout those upper floors of the building."

He confirmed an investigation had been launched into "how the fire started and why it spread so quickly".

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Mr Keelan's comments came shortly after the Fire Brigades Union issued a statement condemning the "complete failure" of the UK fire safety system.

The organisation's general secretary, Matt Wrack, called for an overhaul of UK fire safety and condemned cuts to fire and rescue services.

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He said: "This terrible fire highlights the complete failure of the UK's fire safety system.

"It's deeply troubling to see fire spread rapidly up a building's exterior again – a shocking indictment of the government's shameful inaction after Grenfell.

Firefighters at the scene on Bradshawgate
Image: More than 40 fire engines attended the scene on Bradshawgate in Bolton

"This is not how any building should react to a fire in the 21st century, let alone a building in which people live.

"We need to end the deregulation agenda and the disastrous cuts to our fire and rescue service. It's time for a complete overhaul of UK fire safety before it's too late."

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham spoke shortly after Mr Keelan and was accompanied by two members of Grenfell United, which represents the 72 victims of the fire at Grenfell Tower and their families.

Referring to the London blaze, Mr Burnham said: "That's what we all thought last night when we saw the pictures that were echoes of that terrible event in west London in 2017."

My Bolton student accommodation is on fire 😢 i am safe just sad that my belongings are in there! But the main thing is Im out and Im safe ❤@MENnewsdesk pic.twitter.com/BmTb3CowgO

— 𝓢𝓱𝓪𝓷𝓷𝓸𝓷 𝓟𝓪𝓻𝓴𝓮𝓻🍑 (@Shanparker97) November 15, 2019

Prime Minister Boris Johnson also visited the Bolton site on Saturday and praised emergency crews, saying: "It's been a terrific response, just marvellous.

"Luckily nobody was badly hurt, the fear here was tangible."

Prior to the PM's appearance, Mr Burnham said he would raise the issue of whether more cladding should be removed from buildings to "give these families peace of mind".

He confirmed the cladding was different to that used on Grenfell Tower, saying: "It does not have the ACM cladding which is now banned, but it does have a type of cladding which does cause concern."

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