ENFORCEMENT notices have been issued to a Basingstoke housing association to make its apartment blocks safe following a major blaze in Oakridge.

An independent report into the fire at the apartment block in Oakridge Road on Saturday, May 27 confirmed that it started on an external balcony and was caused by an electrical fault either with a cable or electric fencing.

Basingstoke Gazette: Oakridge Road fireMore than 80 firefighters tackled the blaze which started at around 3pm and resulted in 24 families being displaced.

Residents watched in horror as the fire “spread within seconds” as they were forced to flee their homes.

READ MORE: Families fled burning building as fire 'spread within seconds' 

Since then, concerned residents have been calling for answers as to how the fire spread so quickly.

Now, six months on from the incident, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said it has issued enforcement notices to Vivid to carry out work to make similar blocks on the Oakridge estate safe.

Work to repair the damaged blocks is yet to start, and six families are still living in temporary accommodation.

Jason Avery, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) assistant director for community safety, said: “We conducted a number of post-incident site visits to gather information, and as part of our standard practice we also conducted follow up site inspections of similar buildings.

"We have a duty under the Fire Safety Order to ensure that fire safety provision in relevant buildings are compliant. HIWFRS has issued enforcement notices and is working with Vivid, providing advice and support so that required assessments and improvements are completed in a reasonable timeframe.

“We would like to reassure residents that there are a number of fire safety measures in place to warn and protect residents should there be a fire.”

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Tom Robinson, executive director of assets and sustainability at Vivid, said: “We’re working proactively and in partnership with the fire service on safety works relating to similar blocks within the Oakridge estate.

"We’ve acted swiftly on all recommendations. Required fire safety surveys and where needed upgrade work across these other blocks are in the process of being completed. The safety and wellbeing of our customers is always our top priority.”

An independent fire engineer’s report was carried out into the Oakridge Road fire which has now been shared with Vivid and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, which will both provide feedback.

It confirmed that the accidental fire started on an external balcony and was caused by an electrical fault most likely related to either the over-heating of cable on an uncoiled extension drum or a fault in the control panel of electric fencing on the balcony.

The report found that the fire spread to the balcony of a flat on the first floor and then to the roof soffit above the balcony, before ripping through sideways to other apartments in the block.

Mr Avery said the fire service has conducted community engagement work in Oakridge, with 23 of these visits requested and completed soon after the fire to give residents fire safety advice such as how to prevent electrical fires.

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Vivid continues to support families affected by the fire, with 10 households able to move back to their homes, eight settled in alternative homes, and six leaseholders and shareholders still in temporary accommodation as work is yet to start to repair the damage.

Mr Robinson said: “Six months on it is still important we support our customers, and we know this has been a very upsetting time. This support will remain as will our close working partnership with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.”

He added: “It has not been possible to start work to repair the fire damage until the loss adjustors have completed their assessment. Once we are in the position to begin the work, we will be updating all customers affected in the building and provide a potential date for completion.”

The Gazette has asked Vivid and HIWFRS for further information regarding the enforcement notices and what work needs to be carried out at the apartment blocks, how many are affected, and how long this is expected to take.

Fire safety advice issued by HIWFRS includes:

• Turn off electrical appliances when not in use especially before bed or leaving the house (apart from fridges and freezers designed to be left on)

• Don’t overload sockets, keep to one plug per socket

• Check old cables and leads and NEVER place cables under carpets

• Register your appliances making it possible for the manufacturer to contact you if your product is faulty

• Ensure smoke detectors are working