CFRS provides Beechmere report
CHESHIRE FIRE and Rescue Service (CFRS) found that the fire was accidental and began on the roof before spreading through the building, with the local council welcoming the findings.
The retirement complex was destroyed in the fire in August, and CFRS revealed the building was not fitted with sprinklers. All 150 residents were evacuated and the blaze required a maximum of 16 appliances at its height, and after the fire destroyed most of the building a demolition crew was requested to assist in demolishing areas that were ‘no longer structurally stable’.
The home had only recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, and ITV News asked ‘whether the building adhered to regulation will form part’, while CFRS’ Gus O’Rourke stated that ‘it had no sprinkler system’, and that ‘the building should have adhered to the current legislation on fire protection and compartmentation’.
Mr O’Rourke also pointed out that he ‘would not have expected the fire to go through this building as quickly as it did’. Local MP Laura Smith said later that ‘serious questions need answering’ and wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for building and fire safety regulations to be reviewed. Most recently, the Building Research Establishment was appointed by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government to help investigate, specifically looking at ‘the circumstances that allowed the fire to spread’.
Now, Cheshire East Council has welcomed CFRS’ initial report into the fire, noting that the fire was ‘accidental’ and that it began on a third floor roof terrace before spreading throughout the building. With elderly residents ‘evacuated safely, thanks to the swift actions of the fire service, staff at the complex and the quick thinking of local residents’, the council housing options team is working with property owner Avantage and Your Housing Group ‘to help find long-term housing for the residents’ – at this point, ‘around two-thirds’ have been found alternative permanent homes.
Avantage has also ‘indicated its intention’ to rebuild the complex, stating that it will work alongside the council and other organisations on design and construction. Mark Palethorpe, the council’s acting executive director of people, said: ‘I would like to congratulate Cheshire Fire and Rescue for the extremely professional manner in which they have responded to this dreadful event. Naturally, it is a relief to learn that the cause of the fire has been found to be accidental.
‘I would like to thank the local residents and the people and organisations across Crewe who have supported the people from Beechmere at this difficult time and who have been so generous with their donations of clothing, bedding, toiletries and other essential items, such as wheelchairs and walking frames. I would also like to thank Crewe Town Council, our staff and elected members, who all responded so swiftly to this emergency.’