Fundraiser for victims of Bolton halls fire passes £15,000
A fundraiser has been set up to help the 220 students who were victims of a fire that engulfed a private halls residence in Bolton.
Five days after a huge fire destroyed a private halls of residence block close to the University of Bolton, a fundraising page has raised over £15,000 in donations.
The blaze tore through a luxury block of flats, known as The Cube, in Bradshawgate in Bolton town centre on Friday 15th November.
The fire first broke out at 8.30pm, and at 8.50pm a total of 220 students were evacuated from the burning building. By 1.30am the next morning, 40 fire engines were at the scene.
Footage posted on social media showed the extent of fire:
How is this not headline news??? Over 200 students homeless with absolutely nothing. Personally, all I have is the pajamas I was in as I ran out my flat and my phone that was in my hand as I smelt smoke. This is mental I have no idea what to do now... #boltonfire pic.twitter.com/8TkB4ZQktt
— Megan Maitland (@Megdori) November 16, 2019
Following the fire, a spokesperson from the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said:
We’re pleased to say that contact has been made with the 220 residents that were registered to the building.
What happened to the victims?
All but one of The Cube's 221 rooms were inhabited by students. As a private halls of residence, the building wasn't explicitly affiliated with any university in particular, although 213 of the affected residents attend the University of Bolton.
Elise Milward, who lived in The Cube, spoke to the Manchester Tab in the aftermath of the fire. She said:
I was on the fifth floor; everything is destroyed. It looks like the whole building has lost everything because of smoke damage and water damage.
The students, both from the UK and overseas, were ordered to evacuate the building immediately and leave in the clothes they were in at the time.
They couldn't bring any of their belongings with them, nor could they return to the building on Saturday.
The students lost a lot in the fire and while some things can never be replaced, there is a way to help them get back some of what was lost.
How can you help the victims of the Bolton fire?
Those local to the area were immediate in their response, donating clothes, toiletries and more to the victims.
If you're not able to make a physical donation, Greater Manchester Disaster Relief Fund has set up a JustGiving page to help the 220 students who were directly affected by the fire.
The Bolton Student Flats Fire Appeal page has a target of £100,000.
At the time of writing, the fundraiser has surpassed the £15,000 mark. Approximately 450 donations have been made, including one from all of us here at Save the Student.
We're fully aware of the financial struggles of students in the UK – especially at this point in the semester – but if you're able to spare even a small amount, the Disaster Relief Fund is now gratefully accepting donations to help these students in need.
The JustGiving page reads:
All donations to the Bolton Student Flats Fire Appeal will be gratefully received and passed on to those students who are in need.
The aim of the Greater Manchester Disaster Relief Fund is to provide financial support to victims of large scale disasters.
The aftermath of the fire
The Cube is located in the heart of Bolton and claimed to offer "both spacious luxury studios and en-suite cluster flats".
Immediately after the fire, residents of nearby buildings were told to keep their windows closed and stay indoors where possible due to the smoke.
Students were taken to halls nearby to let loved ones know they were safe.
We spoke to Megan, a resident of The Cube and a student at the University of Bolton, who was keen to highlight the support given by the university in the days following the incident.
The Cube had nothing to do with [the University of Bolton] yet the staff have been nothing but incredible.
They have set up three meals a day, temporarily rehomed us, set up minibuses, counsellors, legal advice teams, donations, daily meetings [to keep us] up to date, long-term accommodation options, academic help – literally anything you could think of; it's been amazing.
They've been so sympathetic and caring considering we are in such fragile states, even to the point of making sure we've eaten/drank.
How did the fire spread?
Urban Student Life, the company responsible for the building, said insurance companies have been told that the fire broke out on the fourth floor and spread to the sixth floor. The lower floors also suffered "considerable water damage" after the blaze was tackled.
In the days following the fire, the issue of flammable cladding was raised – an understandable concern given the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 2017.
However, the Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, explained that while the building did have a type of cladding which he feels should be investigated, it was not the same as that used on Grenfell Tower.
He told Sky News:
It does not have the ACM cladding which is now banned, but it does have a type of cladding which does cause concern.
There will be many people living in buildings with this cladding today who will be very worried.
As a result, the Fire Brigades Union is pushing for an overhaul of fire safety in the UK, since the flames spread "extremely rapidly" up and around The Cube.
Anyone can donate to the fundraiser online via the JustGiving page here. You can also leave a message with your donation.