Human remains discovered after mill fire in Greater Manchester

·3-min read
The blaze at Bismark House Mill in Oldham (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service)
The blaze at Bismark House Mill in Oldham (Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service)

Human remains have been discovered by demolition workers following a fire at a mill in Greater Manchester of which no one was thought to be inside.

Greater Manchester Police received a report that four Vietnamese nationals were missing and may have been involved in a fire last Thursday.

The police declared a major incident after remains were discovered on Saturday at Bismark House Mill, Bower Street, Oldham, where there had been a fire on May 7.

At the time of the blaze, which was extinguished over four days, no-one was believed to have been inside the building, police said.

Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said: “Victims and the bereaved are at the forefront of our investigations into deaths.

“As such, whilst work is ongoing to confirm the identity of the deceased, we are liaising with partner agencies to ensure potential family members in Vietnam are fully informed and supported.

“This news will understandably impact both the local and wider community. I can reassure members of the public that this has been declared a major incident to ensure both GMP and partner agencies respond to this incident in the most effective way and that specialist officers are following every line of enquiry to confirm the identity of the deceased, if anyone else was inside the mill during the fire, and the full circumstances surrounding that fire.

“Any criminal offences identified as part of their investigation will be immediately and appropriately progressed.

Fire at Bismark House Mill (PA)
Fire at Bismark House Mill (PA)

“On behalf of the investigation team, I appeal to anyone with information to contact them directly or, anonymously, via Crimestoppers.

“They’re particularly interested in hearing from anyone who knows how the building was being used in the lead up to May 7 or who has information about the fire itself.”

The police spokesman said the incident had been referred to the force’s Professional Standards Branch for review due to previous contact relating to the fire and missing persons.

Speaking to media at the site, assistant chief fire officer for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service Leon Parkes said: “When the fire service arrived at the scene they were met with a very serious fire, a well-developed fire, in the building.

“A decision was made at that time not to permit any firefighters into the building for two reasons – firstly, the fire was well-developed and was continuing to grow and, secondly, there was some concern about the structural stability of the building.

“We fought the fire over four days from the outside before handing the premises over.

“These are the correct procedures that are followed in situations like this.

“Given the devastation that has happened here it is right that we are absolutely certain and that is why we are now reviewing the details of the incident and how we managed the incident.”

Anyone with information can submit it to police via the Major Incident Public Portal or call 0161 856 0055 quoting Operation Logan.

Information can also be shared anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Mr Parkes said it appeared the site of the blaze was a multi-occupancy warehouse used by a number of companies.

The building was thought to be locked up and closed when the fire broke out in the early hours, he added.

He added: “Our firefighters who attended this incident will be devastated by what has transpired.”

A large cordon is in place surrounding the debris-strewn location, facing terraced housing in Barry Street, while a search drone hovers ahead. A number of specialist fire units and a crime scene investigation van are among vehicles within the cordon.

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