Tight-knit community left shattered after devastating house blaze that killed woman and left girl, 15, in critical condition
A tight-knit community was left shattered after a devastating house blaze killed a 42-year-old woman and left a teenage girl, 15, fighting for her life in hospital.
Emergency services raced to the scene of the fire on Saint Thomas Street North at around 4.10pm on Saturday (June 24) and immediately evacuated residents as the fire quickly took hold of the terraced house.
Crews remained at the scene overnight as the fire took hours to get under control. The road remained closed off throughout Sunday (June 25) for investigations to be carried out with residents warned it may be well over a week until they can return home.
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It was confirmed on Saturday night that a woman, aged 42, had been pronounced dead at the scene. A 15-year-old girl was rushed to hospital and is currently fighting for her life.
Devastating pictures from the scene show the extent of the damage caused by the fatal fire, with a number of attics exposed and houses in the vicinity left blackened. On Saturday, thick black smoke filled the streets as ‘panicked’ residents rushed to help.
The fatal blaze rocked the local Werneth community, which is predominantly Muslim, with crowds coming together, turning out to the local mosques to mourn their loss and pay their respects.
Beside the cordon, local Labour councillor Nyla Ibrahim told the Manchester Evening News: “Our thanks goes out to the emergency services, they’ve been on the scene overnight.
“Our condolences go out to the family at this difficult time. It has affected the community as a whole. We come together at times like this.
“It has affected us all. She was a much loved member of the community, she was a bubbly character and always smiling.”
Her sentiments were echoed by other local residents, as another man said: “Within a few minutes the fire had spread all over. It happened so quick.
“It doesn’t matter where we come from, in our Muslim community we will all chip in and do what we can in difficult situations to help. Both blocks of houses have been cleared but they are struggling.”
As Coldhurst Councillor Ruji Surjan shared: “Very sad news this afternoon in Werneth. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected.
“Thank you to Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue service, police and the ambulance service and paramedics who were at the scene tackling the blaze and supporting the families.”
One family, who live two doors down from the fire, had to flee with just the clothes on their backs. They said the community is ‘very close’ with people rushing into the street to try and help.
“We were upstairs and there was a lot of smoke but we didn’t think it was anything serious at first,” they said. “We saw two guys running down the alleyway and try to get into the house. We instantly knew it wasn’t normal.
“We came out and saw all the smoke. The door was melting and the windows had exploded out. Everyone was running into the street because we are all a very close community round here.
“It was frantic and everybody was panicking. We just can’t believe what has happened. It’s devastating. Everyone knew her and the family, so it’s heartbreaking.”
Forensics and fire investigation units were pictured at the scene on Sunday and are likely to remain there for a number of days. Greater Manchester Police are working with the fire service to establish how the fire started.
Chief Inspector Robert MacGregor said: “On behalf of GMP, I send condolences to the loved ones of the woman who has sadly died. Enquiries are ongoing to establish the cause of the fire and they will be kept updated.
“A number of residents remain displaced from their homes but have been provided with alternative accommodation by Oldham Council. We are working with partner agencies to get them back into their homes as safely and soon as possible.”
Group Manager for Bolton and Wigan Jean-Pierre Helliwell, officer in charge of the incident, added: “The thoughts and deepest condolences of everyone at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are with the family, friends and loved ones. We’re incredibly saddened by the news.
“I’d also like to thank Greater Manchester Police, North West Ambulance Service and our other partner agencies for their continued help.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting 2564 of 24/06/2023 or gmp.police.uk. Information can also be shared anonymously via the independent charity – Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.