Southgate Street shut-down after fire forces flat evacuation
EMERGENCY services have descended on mass to Southgate Street after a fire in a derelict building was reported there this morning.
Several calls were made just before noon to emergency services, reporting heavy smoke billowing from a building there.
It is believed number 141 was occupied by squatters and a fire had started in the building sometime around 11.30am.Flames had spread through the roof space into the property next door.
Alarm was raised by the tenants of a neighbouring property managed by Orritt and Turner properties. Mark Turner was one of the first on the scene to check if anyone was left inside.
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His dad Colin Turner, from letting agent Orritt and Turner, said they were worried tenants could have been trapped inside.
"Luckily, only one of the flats was occupied and they contacted my son as soon as they got out," he said.
"When he arrived he entered the building to see if everyone was out before the fire service got there. He suffered a bit with smoke inhalation and was taken by ambulance to hospital. I've just heard he is ok so that's a big relief.
"We looked at buying that building a while ago and had a look around but it was a bit of a wreck and needed a lot doing to it. It has been empty for several years."
His building, containing several flats, has been evacuated. Just one person was home at the time, 32-year-old Clare Dix.
"I was having a lie-in and was woken by the fire alarm," she said. "I could see smoke outside and knew I had to get out as quickly as I could. Luckily, I was on the ground floor.
"I don't know if anyone was in next door but I often hear noises there, even though it has been empty for years. There was a lot of smoke, I had all my Christmas presents out and ready to wrap, hopefully they're not too damaged bu thte smoke was pretty bad. At least I could get the cat out ok."
Sue Wilson lives on the top floor of the building next door, but was out at the time.
"I left for work at around 6.30am this morning and i could smell something funny in the air then. I have often heard movement next door even though it is supposed to be empty. I just hope no-one was hurt. They should have sorted that building out long ago."
Fire crews used four pumps, two jets, two hosereels and six breathing apparatus to tackle the blaze on the first and second floor of the three storey building. Station Commander Burns is in control of the operation. The situation remains ongoing and driver should be aware Southgate Street remains closed near to the Bristol Road traffic lights, as does Trier Way, St Annes Way and Spa Road.
No-one was seriously injured in the fire.