One man has died and eight more have been hospitalised after a fire, sparked by an electric bicycle, broke out on the top floor of a Bristol tower block.
The fire, which started on the 16th floor of Twinnell House, Easton, in the early hours of 25 September 2022, led to the evacuation of the entire building – 90 people in total.
11 fire appliances were deployed to the block of flats along with two turntable ladders and other specialist vehicles, and firefighters were sent into the building to search and clear the flats.
Dave Hodges, Duty Group Commander for the Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AF&RS), said: “On arrival, crews were faced with a serious fire on the 16th floor and deployed crews wearing breathing apparatus to tackle the fire and assist residents.
“The upper floors have been damaged by smoke and fire, and water damage has affected many flats on lower floors.”
The crew were able to extinguish the fire quickly; however, one man died trying to escape, with Avon and Somerset Police later confirming that the man fell from the 16th floor as he attempted to flee the fire inside the flat.
Eyewitnesses told Bristol Live they saw three men climbing out of a window on the top floor; two climbed along the outside of the building to neighbouring flats, but the third man was unable to make his way to safety and fell.
An additional eight more were treated in hospital for smoke inhalation and minor burns, while three residents were treated by paramedics outside the building.
Fire investigators have since identified the cause of the fire as “accidental,” due to a fault in an electric bicycle that was in the hallway of the top floor of the building.
In the aftermath of the fire, residents have been expressing their fears that the smoke alarms were not working in the building. They described how, at the time of the fire, police went door-to-door to wake residents and get them to leave the building.
But AF&RS area manager Vaughan Jenkins confirmed the “building is in line with regulations,” adding that all fire alarms inside the flats were working as expected.
Bristol City Council also reported that all fire measures worked well, and fire crews were able to contain the fire to the top floor. The council said: “This meant that emergency services had the time needed to tackle the fire and get people out safely. The external cladding systems operated as expected and did not ignite or add to the fire. This helped to contain the fire inside the flat and reduce the risk to others.”
While there has been some smoke damage to some communal areas within the building, no other flats have been directly affected by the fire.
The council set up a rest centre for residents while emergency services remained at the scene during the investigation. A spokesperson for the council said: “We’re grateful for the swift action of all emergency services and council officers involved to tackle this fire and support residents to the nearby place of safety.”
The cordon has now been removed with the building being declared safe. Superintendent Tony Blatchford said: “This is a tragic incident in which a man has lost his life. While formal identification has not yet been carried out, we believe we know who the man is and have informed his next of kin. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.
“I’d like to thank those who have been evacuated from their homes for their cooperation and understanding, and promise them all agencies are working hard to enable them to return home as quickly as possible.”
Sourec: The FPA – https://www.thefpa.co.uk/news/man-dies-and-eight-in-hospital-after-tower-block-fire