Home blaze was ‘arson’

Chantry Court sheltered housing in Bridlington is the scene of a Police investigation after a fire occurred.Picture Richard Ponter 120505d
Chantry Court sheltered housing in Bridlington is the scene of a Police investigation after a fire occurred.Picture Richard Ponter 120505d

ARSON could be the cause of a blaze at a Bridlington sheltered housing complex which has left a 63-year-old woman in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

Thirty-three elderly residents, some in their 80s and 90s, were evacuated by firefighters from Chantry Court, off Lawson Road, at around 5.30am on Monday, with four admitted to hospital with smoke inhalation.

The fire is believed to have started in the downstairs flat of the 63-year-old woman, who was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary.

A 15-year-old girl, who is thought to have been staying with an elderly relative at the complex, is believed to have been one of the four taken to hospital as a precaution due to smoke inhalation.

Daryl Oprey, head of safety at Humberside Fire and Rescue was on the scene on Monday morning. He described conditions as “very smokey” and said “visibilty was extremely poor”.

“It is important to say that ourselves, police – continued on Page 3

and a warden from the site worked together, preventing it from being a lot worse than it was,” he said.

“Fire doors stopped the spread of the fire, and the wardens had a safety plan that they had discussed with us previously about moving people to a safe place, in this case a communal day room, away from the scene of the fire.

“The smoke level was very low so it is fair to say that visibility was almost zero, and firefighters had to crawl through the corridor to get to the flat where the fire started.

“We work to get people out as quickly as possible and windows and doors are broken to help us do that.

“Four people were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation, and I must praise everyone involved in getting people out and safe so quickly.

“I understand one lady is in a serious condition in hospital, but it could have been an awful lot worse for the resident of the flat which caught fire, and other residents on that corridor.”

Five fire appliances, along with police cars and ambulances, attended the scene, with the flat where the fire began badly damaged.

Police and the fire service are currently investigating the cause of the fire, with a police spokesperson confirming it is believed to be arson.

One resident, who asked not to be named, said he heard a “loud bang and lots of shouting” from the building in which the fire started as residents were evacuated into a communal day room elsewhere in the complex.

Sylvia Hadlow, who lives close by, said she thought “it was a shame” about the fire and added: “I don’t live there myself but it must have been frightening for those elderly residents who do, it did look like quite a serious fire.”

Neighbours in nearby Lawson Road said they did not see the fire, which happened at the back of a building, linked to Chantry Court’s main entrance, but heard sirens and shouting amid the commotion as firefighters and police rushed to the scene.

A spokesperson for East Riding of Yorkshire Council, which runs Chantry Court, said that officers from the council’s adult care management team, the housing team and wardens attended to support residents who had been evacuated.

“Our priority was to ensure residents were able to return to their flats as soon as it was safe to do so, but a couple of residents had to be found alternative accommodation as their homes were slightly damaged,” they said.

Four residents were offered alternative accommodation on Monday evening, some staying in guest flats at Chantry Court and a nearby sheltered housing complex while others chose to stay with family.

Housing officers from East Riding of Yorkshire Council have visited the site to establish the extent of the fire.

The flat where the fire was discovered needed two new windows, a rewire and a new central heating boiler.

Damage to other flats was relatively minor although some new doors are required and the complex will undergo a thorough clean by the council’s building cleaning unit.

Dick Ikin, housing services group manager at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “We are working with all agencies to ensure residents can return to their homes as soon as it is safe for them to do so.”