Bolton flats blaze: Students ‘confused as alarms go off daily’


Bolton fire

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Firefighters are tackling the blaze at The Cube in Bolton

A row has broken out over fire alarms after a major blaze forced the evacuation of hundreds of students

Residents of The Cube in Bolton had to flee on Friday after the fire broke out that was tackled by up to 200 firefighters, for more than nine hours.

One resident said many were confused as fire alarms go off “almost every day”.

Forty fire engines were called to the scene of the blaze, which affected every floor after breaking out at about 20:30 GMT.

Students have been told to register at Orlando Village Student Accommodation and contact family members to let them know they are safe.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said two people were treated by paramedics at the scene.

It said six fire engines remained at the scene at 05:30 as firefighters “tackle the last few pockets of fire”.

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Neil Hart

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One witness said the fire was “climbing up” the building

A witness said they saw the blaze “climbing up” the six-storey building. One person was rescued by crews using an aerial platform.

Resident Afnan Gohar said she saw the “entire building engulfed in flames”.

“[But] the fire alarms go off almost every day so we just thought this was just another false alarm,” she said.

“We didn’t take notice of it until a girl came running and screamed, telling us to get out and we didn’t believe it at first.”

Shannon Parker, who also lives in the building, said she was in her room when the fire started.

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Police have closed a number of roads in the area

“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,” the 22-year-old said.

“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.”

Other students have taken to social media to say that they did not hear the fire alarms going off in their part of the building.

GMFRS area manager Jim Hutton said “hardworking firefighters” had prevented the fire from spreading to an adjacent building.

“Our crews have done a fantastic job bringing this fire under control, in what have been very challenging circumstances,” added Assistant Chief Fire Officer Tony Hunter.

‘Students supported’

The University of Bolton said it was supporting students who had been evacuated and had given people temporary accommodation at the Orlando student halls and in some hotels.

Prof George Holmes, president and vice-chancellor of the university, said: “University colleagues have worked through the night to make sure support is in place for students over the weekend.

“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.”

He said The Cube is not owned by the University of Bolton and that it was owned and managed by a private landlord.

Witness 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 from the outside,” he added.

“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.”

Videos posted on social media show debris falling from the building and firefighters tackling flames coming out of the windows on the top floors.

One student tweeted to say she had to leave her belongings and added: “But the main thing is I’m out and I’m safe.”

Greater Manchester Police said a number of road closures had been in place.

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Firefighters are using aerial appliances to tackle the blaze


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