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Sheltered housing fire sees residents evacuated

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: June 22, 2012

  • SMOKE DAMAGE: Firefighters from across Cornwall were called to tackle a blaze at Looe's Barbican Court.

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FIRE CREWS from across Cornwall were called to East Looe when smoke began pouring from the laundry of a sheltered housing complex.

Engines from Looe and Liskeard rushed to Barbican Court off Barbican Road at 3.23pm on Saturday, June 16 following reports of a fire alarm sounding and a smell of burning.

Firefighters from Polruan, Lostwithiel and Bodmin responded, with support crews and specialist vehicles coming from Launceston and St Austell. Spokesman Andy Taylor said: "Firefighters, some wearing breathing apparatus, worked hard to fight the fire in the single-storey building measuring 40 metres by 40 metres. The fire crews succeeded in containing the fire damage to a ground floor laundrette and an adjacent utilities area using one jet and two hosereels."

Mr Taylor said parts of the building were affected by smoke but no one was hurt or required rehousing. The blaze was declared under control just after 5pm and a fire investigation team determined that it started accidentally, with firefighters damping down the scene for a further 90 minutes.

Armand Toms, who represents East Looe and St Martin on Cornwall Council, went to check on residents.

"It surprised me that there were at least five fire engines and a couple of police cars," said Mr Toms.

He feared the neighbouring Hillcrest House Nursing Home was on fire but was told it was contained in Barbican Court's amenity room.

"There was a fair bit of smoke damage," he said.

"It will take a little time to clean up and put right but at least nobody's hurt. You can replace buildings but you can't replace people.

"None of the living accommodation was damaged but the smell of smoke sticks to your clothes."

The complex was temporarily evacuated but residents were able to sleep in their own beds that night.

Barbican Court was built in 1993 and offers supported housing to those aged 55 and over in 31 flats and bungalows. It is managed by Devon and Cornwall Leasehold Solutions.

Spokesman Tom Woodman said the laundry room was damaged fairly extensively.

"We're in touch with our insurers and hope to begin repairs ASAP so there's as little disruption to services as possible," he said.

The room only housed tumble driers, and residents are currently making their own arrangements to dry washing.

"We're grateful to the fire service for their speedy and professional response," said Mr Woodman.

"We're pleased no one was hurt. The fire brigade confirmed it's accidental and we're looking into the cause."

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