Hundreds of students have been left without personal possessions and are being rehoused after a fire broke out in a student accommodation block in Bolton.
The blaze broke out at approximately 20:30 on Friday night at The Cube, a block of private student flats, which accommodates about 220 people. All students were successfully evacuated from the building, although two were treated by paramedics at the scene.
It has been confirmed that the cladding on the building was not the same as that used at Grenfell Tower in London, where 72 people died in a fire in 2017. However, Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham called cladding a “concern”, and that it is “a bigger issue…than we have so far faced up to”.
Several residents have also told the BBC that they didn’t take the alarm seriously at first, or didn’t know if it was real or not, as fire alarms go off “almost every day”.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service have launched an investigation into the blaze, which they said spread “very quickly”, and affected all six storeys of the building. At its height, about 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines were reported to be on the scene.
The building is managed by Urban Student Life (USL), who also provide student accommodation in Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Sheffield. In a statement on their website, they said they were “deeply sorry” about the displacement of the students, and “concerned about the distress and disruption that the blaze has caused to the lives of those students. ”
The statement continued: “Valeo USL is continuing to work together with the great welfare and accommodation teams at the University to rehouse students and help them put this upsetting incident behind them. ”
One Bolton University student took to twitter to thank all those who had helped in the aftermath of the fire. She tweeted that she was, “overwhelmed by the generosity from the Bolton Community.”
The University of Bolton has established a fundraiser in order to raise money for students affected by the blaze, many of whom escaped with little more than the clothes on their backs.