Fire team won’t rule out tower block ar­son at­tack

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By JOHN SCHEERHOUT [email protected] @john­scheer­hout

A PROBE into the cause of a dev­as­tat­ing fire at a stu­dent block of flats has not ruled out foul play and is to ex­am­ine footage which sug­gests the blaze started out­side a door on a fourth floor land­ing, the M.E.N. has learned.

So­cial media footage shows the fire at The Cube in Bolton dur­ing its in­fancy out­side a door of one apart­ment on a fourth floor deck ac­cess area.

It rapidly spread to the fourth and sixth floors, and ap­peared to con­sume parts of the con­tro­ver­sial High Pres­sure Lam­i­nate (HPL) cladding sys­tem on the out­side of the build­ing.

Some 221 stu­dents were evac­u­ated safely from build­ing on Brad­shaw­gate on Fri­day night. Two stu­dents were treated at the scene for mi­nor in­juries, one of whom who had to be res­cued by fire­fight­ers from an aerial plat­form.

Fire ser­vice bosses say the swift re­sponse saved lives. An investigat­ion into the cause, and how the fire spread so rapidly, is un­der­way.

Fire ser­vice in­ves­ti­ga­tors will ex­am­ine CCTV and so­cial media footage, par­tic­u­larly cam­era phone footage which ap­pears to show the fire start­ing on a fourth floor land­ing.

Sources have con­firmed that de­lib­er­ate ig­ni­tion hasn’t been ruled out although an ac­ci­den­tal cause will also be ex­am­ined.

Footage from the scene ap­pears to show burn­ing de­bris fall­ing from the top of the build­ing.

The wider investigat­ion will con­sider the evac­u­a­tion, the rapid spread of the blaze as well as what caused it.

Like oth­ers, the build­ing was in­spected in 2017 and it found the in­su­la­tion used behind the cladding did not com­ply with build­ing reg­u­la­tions.

Although it does not have Alu­minium Com­pos­ite Ma­te­rial, which was banned after the tragedy at Gren­fell, the build­ing is fit­ted with High Pres­sure

Lam­i­nate (HPL). In July, the Gov­ern­ment ruled HPL was safe if fit­ted prop­erly with non-com­bustible in­su­la­tion and wrote to hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to iden­tify which ma­te­ri­als had been used on its highrise build­ings.

Greater Manch­ester Ma­jor Burn­ham said the build­ing had a cladding that ‘causes con­cern and raises is­sues that will now have to be ad­dressed na­tion­ally.’

Ur­ban Stu­dent Life, the com­pany which man­ages the build­ing, said in a state­ment: “The build­ing is in two blocks with fire dam­age to the rear block only. The front block is not af­fected by fire dam­age.”

Crews ex­am­ine the fire dam­age

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