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Hawley flats still out of bounds for residents after massive fire

Flats still unsafe and smelly after fire caused roof of two top-floor homes to cave in

People living in a fire-ravaged block of flats are still waiting to hear when they can return to their homes.

A blaze engulfed the block of eight flats in Thornfield Green, Hawley, on Friday afternoon (July 4).

Two of the top floor flats suffered massive damage to their roofs, with the ground floor flats also being extensively damaged. The remaining four flats were also smoke damaged.

A number of residents were returning to check their homes when Get Hampshire visited the scene on Tuesday (July 8).

Daniel Cope, 25, was in his top floor flat when the fire broke out.

"I heard a loud bang, which sounded like thunder," he said.

"I looked out the back and saw a window on the floor.

"I went outside and Dave [the resident whose flat the fire started in] was there.

"He was a bit shocked but he was OK and talking to me.

"He was distressed but still fine and we had a conversation. He was competent and walking around.

"He said he was just in his home relaxing.

"Someone else called the fire brigade, who were around pretty sharpish.

"The Red Cross also came to help. The residents didn't know what was going on so they were giving out information."

 

Mr Cope said he was allowed back in his flat but could not stay there.

"We're just not comfortable staying," he added.

"It's still quit smelly and bad and we've been recommended not to stay there.

"I think a couple of people downstairs have stayed for a day or two but then changed their minds."

Mr Cope said he was still waiting to hear back from the structural engineer to see when he could return.

"We're staying with family at the moment and I've no idea how long it will be before we can go back," added Mr Cope, who has lived in his flat for three years.

"It's a really quiet neighbourhood. Nothing ever happens around here until Friday the 4th of July."

Loss adjuster

Another resident, who preferred not to be named, said she was not allowed into her ground floor flat as it was not structurally safe.

"I've no idea when I can return," she added. "I'm still waiting for the loss adjuster, who is not coming until Thursday.

"We haven't been given any timescales, it's still waiting to be assessed.

"I don't think anyone's returned personally - you can still smell it now.

"It's lovely here. We just need to get it all sorted so we can all get back home."

The resident said she did not know how the fire started, adding: "There's lots of rumours but until we get the facts it's all hearsay."

'Possessions are replaceable'

And the woman, who was not in at the time of the fire, praised firefighters for rescuing her four-year-old black cat from her flat.

"She went to the emergency vets and she's going to be fine. She's staying with me at my parent's house in Farnborough. I think a lot of people are staying with their families.

"Luckily most people were at work. If it had happened at night it could have been a totally different story.

"At the end of the day people are safe and possessions are replaceable."

Daniella Shepherd, who lives opposite the affected flats, was in at the time of the fire.

"I had put my one-year-old son to sleep and opened my curtains at about 3.10pm to see all the commotion.

"The fire brigade were called at 2.53pm so for them to sort it out within 17 minutes was incredible. They were very quick and efficient.

"I just had to witness it all, which was very sad. My husband was stuck on the green with all the other residents."

 

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