An investigation has been launched into a major fire at the Beechmere residential complex in Crewe.
The fire broke out shortly after 4.30pm on Thursday, 8 August. Around 150 people were swiftly evacuated from the building and, at its height, 16 fire engines were in attendance to tackle the blaze.
Crews have worked alongside a specialist building team on Saturday to spread the remaining material out to help with the damping down process, and will return again on Monday to continue that work.
Firefighters remained at the scene throughout Sunday to monitor the situation and cool hot-spots, while colleagues from Cheshire police have been stationed at the cordon throughout the weekend.
Fire investigators are now turning their attention towards how the fire started and, in particular, how it was able to spread through the building so quickly.
CFRS Head of Protection Lee Shears said: “It is clearly still very early days in our investigation, but what we do know is that the fire started in the roof area and spread rapidly. It appears, at this stage, to not have been a deliberate act.
“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.”
That decision cancelled a ‘stay put’ policy at the premises, which would have required residents to remain in their apartments and be evacuated on a phased basis.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gus O'Rourke explained: “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.
“I must also praise the staff at Beechmere and neighbouring residents. They were immense in supporting the evacuation process that evening and should be truly proud of themselves.
“The support from residents and the wider community of Crewe continues to be an inspiration to us all, and I can’t thank them enough for their generosity, patience and understanding during this incident.”
A cordon remains in place at the scene on Rolls Avenue. Some residents from neighbouring properties were also evacuated and have been displaced throughout the weekend. We hope to be able to allow those residents to return home very soon.
Residents and relatives with enquiries about social care and accommodation can still call Cheshire East Council’s 24-hour helpline on 0300 123 5025.
The thoughts of everyone at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service are with those who lost everything they have in the fire at Beechmere. Despite our very best efforts, we regret that we were unable to bring the fire under control soon enough to save your treasured memories and possessions, and we extend our deepest sympathies to you.