Amleen House Residents In Colchester Evacuated Over Fire Safety Fears

All residents have been evacuated from a block of flats that has been deemed unsafe due to fire safety concerns.

Essex Fire and Rescue Service issued a prohibition notice on the seven-storey Amleen House on Hawkins Road, Colchester, on Monday.

During an inspection, the fire service found the potential for “rapid fire spread” created a “serious risk to life”.

About 125 people have been moved to alternative accommodation.

The fire service said there were “numerous issues” around fire safety found during the inspection.

Escape routes were compromised, fire compartmentation between walls, floors and doors was found to be insufficient and unprotected vertical shafts and exposed electrical wiring was found inside the building, it added.

The majority of residents in the privately-owned flat were students and their families from the University of Essex.

There were also some students from other institutions and a small number of non-student families, the fire service said.

About 100 people have been given alternative accommodation by the university and six families were being housed in a local hotel by Colchester City Council.

The fire service said the building was thought to have been occupied for about a year.

Jim Palmer, area manager for the fire service, said prohibition notices were only issued “when it is absolutely necessary”.

“In this instance, we are clear that the property did not meet fire regulations. Specifically, we believe if there was a fire in the building, due to the way it’s been built, there is potential for rapid fire spread internally.

“This would mean residents would not be able to evacuate safely and this would put residents at a higher risk of serious injury or death,” he said.

A spokesperson from the University of Essex said it was “deeply concerned” about the safety issues raised.

They said staff visited the flats with fire officers to tell students the news and said it would be supporting them.

The Health and Safety Executive has been informed and Colchester City Council said it was working with the fire service to make sure the landlord complied with the notice.

Gas and electricity providers attended on Tuesday and isolated services, the fire service added.