The fire that ripped through a Cheshire care home last week and saw dozens of older residents evacuated from their homes “spread rapidly” and did not “behave in the way fire services would expect”, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service has said.
In a statement released today, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that it had now begun its investigation into the cause of the fire but that it did not believe it was caused deliberately.
Around 150 people were evacuated after a fire broke out at the Beechmere residential complex, managed by Your Housing, on Thursday last week.
More than 70 firefighters worked throughout the night to control the fire, which caused the building to partially collapse.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is now looking into how the fire started and how it was able to spread through the building so quickly.
Lee Shears, head of protection at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Establishing the cause is our first priority and I’m confident that we will conclude this soon – what will take more time is understanding how the fire took hold in the way that it did. Fortunately, there is still a section of the building that remains intact, and that could be crucial in helping us to figure out what went wrong here.
“From speaking to the incident commander first at the scene, it’s clear that the fire wasn’t behaving in the way that we would expect, and I must praise his swift and decisive actions in ordering the immediate evacuation of residents. His decision undoubtedly saved lives.”
The incident commander, who was first on the scene when the fire broke out, has been praised for overriding the building’s policy to tell residents to stay put in the event of a fire.
Gus O’Rourke, assistant chief fire officer at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Such policies are commonplace and a recognised methodology in buildings that are designed to support them. Thankfully, the incident commander recognised the immediate danger and was able to override it.”
The building sustained significant damage as a result of the fire and partially collapsed. Housing association Your Housing was the operational manager of the block.