Wharfside investigation ‘could take weeks’

AS demolition work begins on the Wharfside apartment block, fire chiefs say it could be weeks for the full details of what happened to be revealed.

Crews have started work to tear down the top two floors of the five-storey building this afternoon (Tuesday).

Police and members of the fire service remain on the scene as the demolition begins of the apartments seriously damaged by fire at Wharfside Apartments

Police and members of the fire service remain on the scene as the demolition begins of the apartments seriously damaged by fire at Wharfside Apartments

The work was due to start Monday afternoon, but due to several issues – one being the size of the crane –, had been put back until this morning, then until this afternoon.

Station manager Gary Jarvis from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “We’ve had a number of multi-agency meetings with the police, local authority, demolition team and civil engineers.

“What we’ve decided to do is to demolish the top two floors of the building to about halfway along.

“Because of the danger within the building, the investigation will take some time, it could take a number of days before we investigate what is going on.

We need to go in bit by bit, rather than doing the investigation in one fell swoop where we have got full access to the whole building.

Station manager Gary Jarvis

“Basically we need to go in bit by bit, rather than doing the investigation in one fell swoop where we have got full access to the whole building.

“Unfortunately in this scenario we can’t go in until demolition has stopped to carry out a risk assessment and we are going in in short time slots.”

Taking the building apart bit by bit will enable firefighters to locate any further signs of fire.

The cause of the fire is, as yet, unconfirmed but residents have speculated that a BBQ could have played a part.

Locals watch on as the roof of the building is taken down

Locals watch on as the roof of the building is taken down

“Nothing is discounted at this moment in time,” added Mr Jarvis. “So we will be looking at every avenue within there and obviously the conclusion of the investigation will be published at a later date. This process will take a number of days if not weeks.”

During the demolition process, a hydraulic platform was raised into the air and firefighters used a thermal imaging scanner to locate hotspots and extinguish them.

Residents met with Council bosses and fire chiefs at 10am on Tuesday ahead of the demolition and some were able to go and retrieve valuables from some of the lesser affected apartments.

Sadly though, around 50 flats have been completely gutted in the blaze.

Firefighters used a hydraulic platform to monitor the demolition

Firefighters used a hydraulic platform to monitor the demolition

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the local authority are currently working together to create a “housing cell” at Mill at the Pier, where people can gain advice and seek accommodation.

Wigan Council said it was working quickly to house people, making families the first priority.

A total of 50 people spent the night at Premier Inn, in Wigan, on Monday whilst others stayed with relatives.

Peter Layland, Wigan Council’s housing officer, said: “The council has a duty to make sure people are safe and have a roof over their head.

“We ask for people to be patient and we will get to everyone’s needs.”