Shocking videos have captured the moment where the Bolton fire appeared to start in The Cube student accommodation in Bolton, Greater Manchester, last night.
Footage shows fire crews attempting to contain the blaze before it turns into a huge inferno, spreading over several floors.
It appears to have started in one of the higher floors of the building, although it’s not yet clear how.
Colette Wiseman, 22, a Bolton University theatre graduate, who lives in the building behind it said it was ‘terrifying’.
She said: “It started about 9 o’clock last night, I heard shouting outside my window and I didn’t know what was happening- I live in the town centre so on a Friday night you hear shouting sometimes.
“Then I could see flashing lights so I opened my curtains and I could see smoke coming out the Cube.
“I rang my friend to see if she was ok because she lives on the top floor.
“Probably half an hour later, the whole of the top floor was just flames.
“Luckily my friend was out at that point so I filmed the video to show her how bad it is.
“Everything happened really quickly- I’m surprised they got everyone out to be honest which is a massive compliment to the fire safety people and the people who run the building. “
Overnight and earlier today, fire chiefs urged residents in the area to contact their loved ones and let them know they are safe.
They have now confirmed that all the occupants of the building have been accounted for.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted about the incident earlier this morning, condemning the ‘government’s shameful inaction since Grenfell.’
He wrote: ““Thank you to the 40 fire crews who tackled the #BoltonFire and the emergency services who treated people at the student accommodation.
“If reports are correct and flammable cladding contributed to the fire, it shows the government’s shameful inaction since Grenfell.”
Boris Johnson wrote: “My thoughts are with all those affected by the serious fire in Bolton last night.
“Thank you to emergency services for your brave response.
“I have spoken with AFC Tony Hunter who is in charge at the scene, and we are doing everything to ensure they have all the required support.”
Students described having to flee and leave all of their belongings in the inferno.
One eyewitness described the fire as “crawl[ing] up the cladding like it was nothing”.
Ace Love, 35, told the PA news agency: “The fire kept getting more intense, climbing up and to the right because the wind was blowing so hard.
“We could see it bubbling from the outside and then being engulfed from the outside.
“A lot of students got out very fast, someone was very distressed, the rest were on phones calling for help.
“The fire got worse and worse, to the point where you could see through the beams, it was just bare frame.”
University of Bolton student Shannon Parker, 22, lives in the building.
She told PA: “I was in my room whilst it was happening. I heard the fire alarm going off but it kept on going off so I just thought it was a drill at first until one of my flatmates shouted down the corridor that it was a real fire.
“So I ran out the flat as quickly as I could and I saw that it was one of the flats below mine and we went out by the fire exit.”
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service said: “Around 200 firefighters were tackling the blaze, with40 fire engines, three aerial platforms and other specialist appliances in use.
“Six fire engines currently remain at the scene as firefighters tackle the last few pockets of fire.
“Road closures remain in place and people are urged to stay away from the area.”
The Fire Service confirmed that the response is being scaled back as the fire has been brought under control.
Professor George E Holmes DL, President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, said: “Supporting the welfare of our students is our number one priority and we have moved swiftly to assist in any way we can.
“University colleagues have worked through the night to make sure support is in place for students over the weekend.
“We have assisted in ensuring students have been given temporary alternative accommodation at the Orlando student halls and in some Bolton hotels.
“We have also arranged to provide necessities such as toiletries for all students affected and are opening the University over the weekend so students can be supported. We will also provide food for them.
“I would like to stress that The Cube is not owned by the University of Bolton. It is owned and managed by a private landlord and the students were not on our premises during this incident.”