FIRE CREWS were called out to rooftop blaze at a block of flats in Arborfield last week.
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service crews from Wokingham, Whitley Wood, Wokingham Road, Bracknell, Crowthorne, Caversham Road, Mortimer, and Dee Road raced to the fire in Millard Place on Thursday, April 15.
The flats were called Haylot House, and are part of The Cavalry, one of the new developments in Arborfield Green.
‘The fire was massive’
Tim Pritchard, content creator for Siren Craft Brew, saw the blaze when it started at approximately 2.15pm. He told Wokingham.Today: “Our operations manager, Jason, spotted the fire as it was massive, above the treeline.
“Initially it was a section of roof but then it caught, spread and went really full on very quickly. Fire crews seemed to respond pretty quickly and get it under control, but it didn’t take long to look properly devastating.
“Heartbreaking to see so many new homes [affected].”
One resident told Wokingham.Today they heard a car alarm go off, before noticing the “big fire” from their garden.
They said: “The fire brigade came so fast, it was there in two or three minutes.”
Also at the scene was the Aerial Ladder Platform and Incident Command Vehicle, supported by crews from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Police and ambulance crews were also there to support the fire service.
The Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue teams stayed on scene for more than seven hours to manage the flames, with crews remaining at the scene to reinspect the site and monitor for hotspots for a further 24 hours.
At the time, they warned residents to avoid the area, and close all windows and doors to shut out the plumes of smoke.
As the emergency services tackled the blaze, residents stood in socially distanced huddles watching the work unfold.
‘It’s dreadfully tragic’
Cllr Gary Cowan, ward councillor for Arborfield said it was fortunate the fire happened in the afternoon, as there were no injuries or deaths.
“It’s dreadfully tragic for all the families involved having lost all their possessions but on a positive note there was no loss of life in this tragic incident.”
He said families were rehoused in vacant flats and nearby hotels that evening.
The borough council sent officers to the site, to support those affected, and First Days Children’s Charity and SHARE Wokingham worked to offer supplies for all those involved.
A spokesperson said: “Council officers were on site and helped coordinate volunteers from SHARE, First Days, the Wokingham Foodbank and Cowshed who all went above and beyond to help.
“On the day of the fire, the families received welfare packs with duvets, bedding, toiletries, pet food and more. And it doesn’t stop there – the voluntary sector delivered fresh food boxes, clothing and other items the following day and helped organise the ongoing support these families will need in the coming days.
“We are lucky in Wokingham Borough to have so many fantastic voluntary sector organisations.
“This is what happens when we all work together.”
An investigation into the cause of the fire will soon begin, after fire crews have determined the structural safety of the building.