Fire-hit flats will be rebuilt

The firm managing a block of Wolverhampton flats that was ravaged by fire says it will rebuild most of them from scratch – but cannot yet say when residents could move back in.

FLATS 13 DH  1

The firm managing a block of Wolverhampton flats that was ravaged by fire says it will rebuild most of them from scratch – but cannot yet say when residents could move back in.

Property management company HLM has arranged for demolition work on the apartments in Willenhall Road to start in two to three weeks time.

But families fear they may not be able to return to their homes for many months, with one couple in a hotel due to a credit wrangle.

The blaze, which fire chiefs have since revealed was started by a discarded cigarette, began on the afternoon of Saturday,  August 11, and ripped through the building leaving it structurally unsound. Spokesman for HLM, Christine Webb, said residents were moved from 15 properties, of which those from four apartments have been able to return. She said: “The plan is that residents of a further two properties will be able to move back once safety checks and remedial work has been carried out.

“Six of the remaining nine apartments will be demolished and rebuilt.

“The other three apartments are inaccessible due to a damaged staircase, which will be demolished and put back in.

“Residents will be able to return to their homes once the work has been carried out and the building is safe and secure.”

She said it was not yet known when re-building work could begin. Couple Emily Smedley, aged 33, and Steve Tym, aged 32, are among those unable to return home and are staying at the Premier Inn, Wolverhampton.

Miss Smedley, who owned the flat damaged by the fire, is three months pregnant and said the “worst case scenario” would be for her baby to be born while her address is still a hotel. She said her credit rating was poor which meant estate agents were not willing to have her as a tenant despite her insurers having agreed to pay the rent.