WIGAN’S fire chief received a standing ovation from the borough’s elected members for his officers’ efforts in tackling the Wharfside flats blaze.
Commander Steve Sheridan was invited to the town hall for last week’s meeting of the full council and in return said local authority officers had been “magnificent”.
He added that his crews had filled more than 2,000 bags of personal belongings in their salvage attempts.
The 4am fire left around 200 tenants without homes after it tore through the blocks near to Trencherfield Mill last month.
Commander Sheridan told the chamber: “It was difficult at that time of morning because some residents were returning from the Wigan night-time economy and trying to get back into the property. And one did, after we had evacuated, he managed to get back into bed and we dragged him out.
“Timber frame buildings, they are safe, just to dispel any rumours going around, they are designed to stay safe for 60 minutes in order to get everybody out and that’s what happened.
We filled over 2,000 evidence bags in a 40 hour salvage operation, getting everything we possibly could for residentsWigan fire chief Steve Sheridan
“We filled over 2,000 evidence bags in a 40 hour salvage operation, getting everything we possibly could for residents.
“This included a bicycle I salvaged from the second floor balcony, the owner had called it Lucy and it was the only mode of transport she had so it was vital to her, it was a precious possession. We were very pleased we got these kind of things for people.”
Mayor Susan Loudon expressed her gratitude to the firefighters, police, council staff and members from the nearby Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (Arla) who helped residents in the aftermath of the fire.
Douglas ward representative Coun Shirley Dewhurst said: “Thankfully there was no loss of life but a lot of people were made homeless and many lost everything.
“I would thank to thank Wigan Council and the emergency services for their work at the scene. They did a wonderful job in difficult circumstances. I was overwhelmed by the response by the people of Wigan who donated clothes and essentials for the residents.”
Coun Sam Murphy added: “(Couns) Mike and Shirley (Dewhurst) were there all the time talking to people and offering their support.”