Police 'no closer' to catching person responsible for Manchester fire

Police and fire chiefs confirmed the fire had been started deliberately, and a murder probe was launched. Credit: MEN Syndication

One year on from a deadly fire in Manchester’s Chinatown detectives say they are no closer to catching the person responsible. Two homeless men were killed in the blaze on November 25 last year which tore through a building on Nicholas Street.

At its peak, more than 50 firefighters were on scene, with flames so fierce they even lit up the nearby Chinatown Arch.

Police and fire chiefs confirmed the fire had been started deliberately, and a murder probe was launched.

In the months following, detectives announced a reward of £50,000 to anyone who could help bring the culprit to justice.

But even the promise of a life-changing amount of cash did not bring them closer to finding the truth.

Now, on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, the M.E.N can reveal that GMP have exhausted all leads, and the investigation is no longer active.

A spokesman for the force said that it is still very much an open case, but unless new information comes to light, there is very little they can do.

Emergency services were called to the scene at around 2.15am on 25 November last year to reports of a fire in a disused building.

Crews worked desperately to tackle the blaze and it wasn’t until later that day there were told that there may have been people inside.

A specialist GMFRS dog was sent into search the property and discovered the bodies of 57-year-old James Evans, known as ‘Popeye’, and Wayne Bardsley, 51, aka Uncle Albert.

Detectives on the case made an arrest in connection with the fire, but there was not enough evidence to support a charge and the man was released.A spokesman for GMP said it was now a matter for the coroner.

They said: “A 24-year-old man was arrested in connection with the fire on Nicholas Street that took place on November 25 of last year before he was bailed pending further enquiries.

“A file of evidence was presented to the CPS who took the decision to take no further action.

“The investigation team remains ready to investigate any credible information that comes to light and anybody with information should contact police as a matter of urgency.”

They also confirmed that the £50,000 reward would also still stand if someone provided information that led to a conviction.