Cowley squat ravaged by fire

Fire engulfed a house on Cowley Road on last Wednesday afternoon  resulting in the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service temporarily closing the road to battle the blaze.

The fire started in the middle of the afternoon on 15th February and fire crews were faced with smoke billowing out of all levels of the three-storey house, situated near the Cowley Road Methodist Centre. Flames were even visible on the ground floor. Eight firefighters broke into the building in full gear to extinguish the fire and search for people. No one was found inside and no one was hurt by the fire. The fire destroyed one room on the property and the rest of the house was damaged by smoke.

A potentially disastrous situation was only narrowly avoided, according to Group Manager Peter Graham: “The quick actions of these people in calling the Fire Service, together with a rapid response by fire crews prevented this incident from developing into a very serious fire and ensured that damage was kept to a minimum.”

Neighbouring buildings were untouched by the fire. Neighbours reported that a squatter had been occupying the building prior to the fire.
A hairdresser named Iwona at Coif Hair and Beauty Salon across the road said she was in her shop when the fire broke out: “I saw the fire and it looked quite big inside the building. I ran to the neighbours to warn them and they called the fire service.”

Iwona believed that she saw the squatter set fire to the house and walk down Cowley Road as the house was burning. OxStu enquiries to the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Thames Valley Police produced no information as to the cause of the fire and the veracity of Iwona’s claim that the fire was in fact, an act of arson.

Regardless of the cause of the fire, the blaze transformed the Iwona’s sleepy afternoon, in the words of the hairdresser, “The fire was a bit scary but also quite exciting!”

Sam Cheam