Dorm fire university of Bolton
© ASP
The University of Bolton was on fire last night
'If it had gone up in the middle of the night everyone would have slept through the alarm. We have slept through them before'

Students have described how they ignored the fire alarm before a blaze which wrecked a Bolton tower block - because 'it goes off all the time'.

Not all the 211 students who lived in The Cube, near Bolton town centre, have yet been accounted for, fire chiefs say.

Dozens fled for their lives after fire ripped through The Cube student accommodation on Friday night.More than 200 firefighters were scrambled to the scene, rescuing one of the stricken students from an aerial platform.

That student and another were treated at the scene by paramedics. There are no reports that anyone suffered serious injuries.

Footage from the scene suggests the fire started on the fourth floor of the six-storey building before spreading to the upper floors.

student dorm fire UK

Video shot by a student shows the early stages of the fire
Students have told the M.E.N. they heard but initially ignored a fire alarm that went off.

University student Shannon Park, who was in her flat on the fifth floor, told the M.E.N: "I was in my room whilst it was happening I heard the fire alarm going off but it kept on going off so i just thought it was a drill at first until one of my flat mates shouted down the corridor that it was a real fire.

"So I ran out the flat as quickly as I could and I have seen that it was one of the flats below mine and we went out by the fire exit."

She believes all of her valuables have been destroyed in the blaze.

Another student, 19, from Essex, who was in his first floor room, said: "I was just sitting there, hanging about and not really doing anything. Then someone knocked on my door.

"The fire alarm was going off but nobody was paying any attention. It goes off all the time, maybe every hour during the day because someone has done something in the kitchen and it's set off the alarm.


"Then someone knocks on my door and it's only a small fire at that stage. Everyone got out well before it was anything (serious). To me it looked like the fire was climbing up the cladding. We all think it's the same cladding as at Grenfell. I'm here, I'm out and I'm alright.

"But if it had gone up in the middle of the night everyone would have slept through the alarm. We have slept through them before when there were non-emergencies.

Another student, 19, from Scunthorpe, said: "I could see smoke coming out of the front door and everybody went out onto the decking at the front of the building."

Student Ace Love, 35, told the Press Association: "The fire kept getting more intense, climbing up and to the right because the wind was blowing so hard.

The blaze is thought to have started on the fourth floor and spread upwards

"We could see it bubbling from the outside and then being engulfed from the outside.

"A lot of students got out very fast, someone was very distressed, the rest were on phones calling for help.

"The fire got worse and worse, to the point where you could see through the beams, it was just bare frame."


Some families who lived in an adjacent property were also evacuated it has emerged.

Kieran Walton, 25, the landlord of The Balmoral pub, and his partner Claire McGibbon, 26, were fundraising for Children In Need in the pub when the fire started.

The pair took in young families who had been evacuated until the pub was also evacuated.

Claire, still wearing her Pudsey Bear outfit, said: "We took in women and children. There was one baby aged two or three weeks. We brought them up to our function room and gave them some warmth.

"They were in a lot of distress. Then we got evacuated ourselves. It was scary."

Assistant County Fire Officer Dave Keenan said about a 200 firefighters and 20 fire engines were at the scene at the height of the blaze.

He said: "I really want to praise the actions of my firefighters and officers last night. Their early intervention and quick decision-making that evacuated this building at pace early on in the incident has made a real difference to the outcome today.

"Crews continued throughout the night in really difficult circumstances and situations and you can see the result this morning where the fire is extinguished and the crews are just working now to identify any hot-spots.

"We have done some extensive work with Greater Manchester Police, the university and the building owner throughout the night and this morning.

"We have identified and we do know everyone who resided in the building and we are still working to try and contact everyone that lived in the premise. At the minute we cannot confirm that everyone is accounted for but work is on-going to do that."

He said his firefighters would remain at the scene throughout the day.

He added: "One thing that I would just like to confirm and allay any fears is that this cladding on this building was not the same cladding that was on Grenfell."
fire dorm university of Bolton UK
© Ashley Stocks
The blaze engulfed the dorm building from the fourth floor up
The fire had spread 'extremely quickly throughout those upper floors in the building', he said.

He confirmed there would be a 'full fire investigation'.

A building inspector is due to examine the site today and only when it is deemed safe will efforts be made to retrieve students' valuables.

However Mr Keenan said the students would 'certainly not be coming back into this building'.

burned cladding bolton dorm fire
© London News Pictures
Charred ladding can be seen on the building
He said: "Since the tragic incident at Grenfell in 2017 we have done some extensive work and we have a high-rise task force team that have concentrated purely on the high rise (buildings) across Greater Manchester to make sure we learned from Grenfell and indeed the evacuation procedure and subsequent training we have done on that and putting that into practice tonight has paid absolute dividends."

He said Greater Manchester Police would be setting up a hotline number where students who have left the scene can report that they are safe and well and they could be 'ticked off our list'.

Bolton University vice chancellor Professor George Holmes also praised the 'amazing emergency services' but went on to confirm a private landlord, not the university, owned The Cube.

He said: "But the students of course are students of the university and what we've done last night is provided them with a bed either at the Holiday Inn at the Travelodge or at the university's own halls at Orlando.

"We've provided them with toothbrushes and all the necessary toiletries in the morning and we've got food on for them today.

"Today our plan is to work with them and the student union president to ensure those students have got proper accommodation for the foreseeable future until this issue is sorted out."

Assistant County Fire Officer Dave Keelan and President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton Professor George Holmes

They were being provided with welfare support and counselling, he said.

"Of course we are delighted we have not had any fatalities reported to us," said Prof Holmes.

The university has set up its own hotline for relatives and friends of students: 01204 903733