herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

Blaze estate families fear fires will spread through their terraces

The scene of the fire at The Millfield Manor Estate, Newbridge, Co. Kildare this morning
The scene of the fire at The Millfield Manor Estate, Newbridge, Co. Kildare this morning
Sharon Conway with her 4 year old son Jayden who lives in the Millfield Estate Newbridge, Co. Kildare

The fire that gutted six homes in an estate in Newbridge last month has left locals fearing for their lives if another blaze should break out.

There is so much concern in the area that locals are to meet this week to discuss the issues arising from the fire on March 31 last.

The terrace of houses in Millfield Manor, which was built in the last ten years, burned to the ground when a fire broke out in one of them, spreading in both directions and consuming all six homes within an hour.

Gutted

Fire crews had to give up hope of saving the terrace and focus their efforts on stopping it spreading to adjacent rows of homes instead.

The houses are of timber- frame construction and clad with brick, but in the properties that were gutted, there were no brick walls between each house.

However, the chief fire officer for Kildare County Council has indicated that building regulations at the time may have allowed for this type of construction.

Other residents in the estate now have fears for their safety, questions over whether building regulations were robust enough at the time their homes were built, and financial concerns about the house values and the future cost of insurance.

"Nobody knows for sure if they have a brick partition between themselves and their neighbours, and everyone fears that a fire in a neighbour's house could spread to theirs some night and they will die in their beds," said Sharon Conway, a Millfield Manor resident.

The mother-of-two said some people who are renting in the estate are planning to move out.

"It's hard to do that when you have a mortgage," she added.

"We want to be assured the houses are safe and meet all the regulations. This is a great estate but the fire has given it a bad name," Sharon explained.

Local councillor Willie Crowley has helped to organise a meeting for Wednesday so that people can air their views.

"People were shocked at how the fire spread," Mr Crowley said. "They are now afraid that if another fire broke out that it would spread at the same rate and they might not be as lucky as the people who all managed to escape the last fire," he added.

Vandals

The Independent councillor also said that there are some residents living in terraces where the neighbouring properties are vacant and some vandalised.

"They are timber frame houses and in one terrace a vacant property has been vandalised and someone has broken through all the dividing walls in the terrace up to the occupied house at the other end," he said.

"Now the people in the occupied house fear that vandals could start a fire in one end of the terrace and it would spread in no time," he added.

Experts in insurance, fire, building and legal areas are to attend this week's meeting with locals.

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