An investigation is underway to determine the cause of a severe fire at a Poundstretcher store in Newcastle-under-Lyme. The fire, which broke out on the morning of 28 February 2011, has rendered the building unsafe which will now have to be demolished. Residents of flats adjacent to the fire wrecked building have been evacuated and occupants will only be able to return to their homes after the unsafe building has been demolished and made safe.
At the peak of the fire there were approximately 60 firefighters attending the blaze with 10 fire engines and two aerial platforms. The metal roll-down shutters that the store had fitted hindered the access to the fire as the attending crews found it difficult to cut through.
The demolition and rebuilding of the store is estimated to cost in the region of £1 million.
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Poundstretcher suffered another blow only weeks after being prosecuted for fire safety breaches under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Their store at Boucher Retail Park, Belfast was destroyed by fire and two other stores on the site were also badly damaged as the fire spread to the two adjacent shop outlets.
The fire was tackled by 17 appliances and a total of 85 fire fighters, taking five hours to bring the blaze under control. Difficulties were experienced, as the Poundstretcher store began to collapse. Several other stores were severely smoked damaged as a result of the blaze.
An investigation has been launched to find the cause of the fire. No casualties have been reported at this stage.
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Poundstretcher, a national store chain, have been found guilty of fire safety breaches under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. These breaches will cost the chain store £55,000. This is already their second prosecution. Poundstretcher were found guilty of similar breaches in 2009 and were fined £20,500 for these breaches relating to their Halifax and Wakefield stores.
This new prosecution arose after a chance visit to the Castleford store by a fire safety officer. It was observed that the store had failed to ensure the safety of employees and customers by blocking fire escapes, inadequate training of staff and failing to review the fire risk assessment.
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