Firefighters STILL battling Oldham Street blaze in Manchester’s Northern Quarter more than 17 hours later

By David Keane

This story was being live edited. The fire has now been put out. Updates are further down.

A large fire at a former drapery store in the centre of Manchester’s bustling Northern Quarter is STILL being battled by firefighters this morning.

Homes and businesses up and down Oldham Street, home to the world famous Afflecks Palace, were evacuated last night. No one is thought to have been injured.

More than 30 firefighters attended the blaze at Mr Ryan’s World Famous Second Hand Store, yet there are still pockets of fire being fought this morning.

Video footage taken by worried onlookers last night showed smoke billowing from the upper windows and fire crews attempting to gain access via the back entrance.

Six fire engines and an aerial appliance were called to Oldham Street and Warwick Street, which is at the rear of the building, at 6pm last night.

A large cordon is still in place and surrounding roads, including Spear Street and adjoining roads between Great Ancoats Street and Dale Street, are all subject to diversions.

Motorists are being advised to avoid the area.

Officers from Manchester City Council provided alternative overnight accommodation for many of those evacuated.

A joint investigation will be underway between police and the fire service to determine the cause of the fire as soon as the fire is properly extinguished.

UPDATE: The main fire has now been dealt with and firefighters are working to extinguish smaller pockets of fire on the building’s upper floors.

There are still road closures in place around Hilton Street and Great Ancoats Street and residents are still not being allowed back into their homes.

Building Control officers will be assessing the situation and will be working to ensure it is safe over the coming days.

Crews from across the city, including Gorton and Broughton, are still at the cordoned off scene after more than 20 hours of tackling the blaze.

There are now two fire engines at the scene, with Oldham Street cordoned off between Great Ancoats Street and Hilton Street.

Tony Bryan is the current incident commander at the scene and revealed 100 people were evacuated from their homes last night, though 90% have been allowed back. 

“It’s quite a severe fire as you can see from the front of the building. Our staff have coped very well to keep it as contained as they have,” he said.

“The important job this morning has been with our partner agencies. I would say about 95% of businesses are up and running again.

“Fire and rescue services will be here for the next 48 hours at least. The area will be up and running again hopefully.”  

Nicola De Grerrio, 24, an Italian waiter originally from Pompeii, lives on Oldham Street very close to the blazing building and cannot believe the situation.

“I worked yesterday and I came back at ten o’clock last night. I was at my friend’s house but I do not know when I am going to be allowed back,” she said.

“There is an investigation now to see if it was natural causes. I hope I can stay in my flat tonight.

“I saw the sky and there was a lot of smoke and I thought it was a fire. When I came here I could not believe it was on my street. It’s an unbelievable and incredible thing.”

A community vehicle is present to answer questions and hear concerns from residents and members of the public. 

For more pictures and video footage of the fire, click here.

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