Fire service to take no action over Pankhurst flats blaze

Posted On 30 Jun 2020 at 3:34 pm

Pankhurst aftermath by @OBDroning on Twitter


The landlord of a block of flats which was destroyed in a fast spreading blaze last year will not face any formal action from the fire service at present.

The block of twelve flats at the top of Pankhurst Avenue was destroyed after a fire which started on one of its timber-clad balconies ripped through the roof last September.

Residents of two neighbouring blocks also owned by the Guinness Partnership housing association were subsequently evacuated after East Sussex Fire ad Rescue (ESFRS) carried out safety checks.

The Spearhead

Nine months on, the residents of all three blocks are still not back. Changes are still being made to the two intact blocks and planning permission for a new block to replace the fire-ravaged one is due to be submitted shortly.

This week, ESFRS said its “wide ranging” investigation into the fire and how it spread was complete – and although no action will be taken now, it reserves the right to take it in the future.

In a statement, ESFRS said: “Following the fire, the Service carried out a detailed investigation into the fire which has confirmed the cause as accidental.

“We have also carried out a full investigation in to any potential fire safety failures.

“The service has now completed its investigations and decided to take no further action. However, this does not prejudice our right to take such further action in the future.”

A spokeswoman for Guinness Partnership said: “We have worked constructively with the fire service and provided them with all information requested. They have confirmed that their investigation is now closed.

“Work required to the undamaged building was delayed due to the lockdown. We are still awaiting confirmation from the original developer as to how any defects in the construction of the building are best addressed.

“Timber cladding is fairly typical of buildings of its generation. However, it will be removed as part of the works.

“Some residents are in longer-term temporary accommodation, others have been permanently rehoused at their request. Residents will not be able to move back to Pankhurst Avenue until we can be sure it is safe for them to do so.

“We hope to submit a planning application to replace the fire damaged building imminently.”

The fire service has not elaborated on the cause of the fire, but an eye witness said it appeared to have been started by a bbq or patio heater on one of the balconies.

  1. bradly23 Reply

    Did the original developer make/have defects in the construction of the building in the first place? Who was the original developer? Are the residents lease-holders or tenants? Were they fully insured? Who picked up the tab at the end?

  2. Valerie Reply

    The occupants who used a barbecue or fire heater on their balcony should be prosecuted. They are prohibited in sensible leases! Did they get rewarded with a council flat instead?

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