Arborfield fire: Residents 'didn't hear a single fire alarm' as block destroyed

  • ITV News Meridian reporter Charlotte Briere-Edney talks to those who lost everything in the fire

Residents living in a block of flats in Berkshire that was destroyed in a blaze have raised concerns about fire safety after some families said they heard no alarms go off.

The newly built homes in Arborfield near Reading were completely destroyed in a fire on 15 April, but those inside the building insist there was nothing warming them of what was happening.

The company managing the building says it does have a smoke detection system, but does not sound an alarm because it has a "stay put" fire policy.

  • 'Not a single fire alarm went off'

The building was almost completely destroyed in the fire.

Thankfully no one was harmed in the blaze, but there is concern that a lack of warning could have made the situation much worse.

Ashley and his partner Charne are among those who escaped the block.

"For the entirety of us watching the building burn, we didn't hear a single fire alarm go off," Ashley said, "To the point where the roof was even collapsing and we still didn't hear a fire alarm at all."

The block is managed by Savills, who told us: "The building has a smoke detection system in its communal areas, which is there to activate smoke ventilation systems, but this does not sound an alarm consistent with the "stay put" fire policy, which means immediate evacuation is not in the fire plan."

An investigation is under way to work out what caused this blaze and if safety did measures function as intended.

  • 'We have nothing to our names right now'

The Cowshed was established in February 2019.

Ashley is now trying to rebuild a life for him and his partner Charne, who is five months pregnant.

They said they are "still feeling a bit lost" following the fire.

"There's been lots of restless nights, sleepless nights," Ashley said.

"Obviously we haven't got a lot of hope of recovering anything in our apartment at the moment, and we have nothing to our names right now.

"We've got only what we can get from charities who've been really helpful for the last few days."

Among those offering assistance is the Cowshed, a crisis charity in Hurst which has provided clothes, bedding and other essentials.

Becky Russell, a referrals supervisor at the centre, said: "We want people coming here to feel like they're getting a gift rather than just some old clothes.

"Because we quite strongly feel that if they're in a difficult situation, we want them to feel valued, we want them to feel good about themselves."