A tower block fire in Northern Ireland appeared to spread across solid panels on the outside of the building, an expert has said.
A number of residents of Coolmoyne House in Belfast were evacuated last week when flames ripped through a ninth-floor flat and spread up the outside of the building.
Pictures after the blaze was extinguished showed solid panels next to the window frames had been destroyed by the fire across several floors, with plastic window frames also damaged.
Arnold Tarling, a chartered surveyor with Hindwoods and a fire safety expert, said it was “incredibly lucky” that the fire had not spread to other flats inside the building.
He said: “There are solid panels on the side of the windows, and it is those which appear to have burnt.
“The windows open inwards, which means they are incredibly lucky the fire occurred when it was cold – otherwise the open windows would let fire in immediately.”
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, which manages the 56-flat tower, said: “We would be unable to comment at this stage until we receive a full briefing from the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS).”
The NIFRS has been contacted for comment.
In an earlier statement, the NIHE said the fire was contained to one flat, which was severely damaged. Seventeen other flats were impacted, primarily by water damage and a small number with smoke damage, the landlord said.
The fire comes five months after the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which killed at least 71 people after flames tore through cladding and insulation attached to the outside of the building.
In August 2016, flames spread up the outside of Shepherd’s Court in west London. A report by the London Fire Brigade later revealed this was “likely” caused by flammable panels attached below the windows.