Government criticised after fire seen ‘crawling up cladding’ at ‘intense’ blaze in Bolton student flats

Fire crews have been tackling a large blaze at a student accommodation building in Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Images posted on social media showed firefighters tackling the blaze on the top floors of a six-storey building known as The Cube on Bradshawgate.

One eyewitness described the fire as “crawl[ing] up the cladding like it was nothing”. This has led to criticism about the government’s lack of action since the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017:

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) said more than 40 fire engines were fighting pockets of fire on the top two floors of the building, which had been evacuated.

Emergency services have not confirmed whether there are any casualties from the fire, which broke out around 8.30pm on 15 November.

Ace Love told the PA news agency:

The fire kept getting more intense, climbing up and to the right because the wind was blowing so hard.

We could see it bubbling from the outside and then being engulfed from the outside.

A lot of students got out very fast, someone was very distressed, the rest were on phones calling for help.

The fire got worse and worse, to the point where you could see through the beams, it was just bare frame.

Other students shared footage of the fire:

Bolton fire
Firefighters at the scene (Peter Byrne/PA)

University of Bolton student Shannon Parker, 22, lives in the building.

She told PA:

I was in my room whilst it was happening. I heard the fire alarm going off but it kept on going off so I just thought it was a drill at first until one of my flatmates shouted down the corridor that it was a real fire.

So I ran out the flat as quickly as I could and I saw that it was one of the flats below mine and we went out by the fire exit.

She said she was being relocated to either a nearby hotel or another student accommodation building.

Authorities have asked anyone who was living at or visiting The Cube to register at the nearby Orlando Village student accommodation facility.

“We have divided the fire itself into four sectors of firefighting, allowing us to target our efforts on particular hotspots,” GMFRS area manager Jim Hutton said in a statement.

“While the building does remain on fire, we are doing all we can to stay on top of this situation and soon extinguish the flames.”

Road closures remain in place around the area.

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