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Thames Valley Police, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Reading Borough Council are continuing to work together to make the building safe in Rowe Court, Reading following a major fire which began at the site on Wednesday, 15 December.
Tragically, we know that one person has died as a result of this incident. Yesterday (30/12), a second deceased person was located in the building.
It is likely these are the two people who have been reported missing, however we cannot confirm at this time.
Due to the structural instability of the building it currently remains impossible to recover those who are inside.
In the weeks since the fire, scaffolding has been put in place around the site and good progress has been made.
However, in recent days, the building has started to collapse inwards, which has resulted in some parts of the roof falling inside.
It is therefore possible that further collapses will occur due to the instability of the building.
While it is impossible to predict when or if this will happen, the emergency services continue to monitor the site closely as well as weather conditions which could affect the situation.
If the collapse does occur, it is expected that this could be loud as well as visible to those living nearby.
In the event of a collapse, people are advised that they should keep windows and doors closed to prevent dust from entering their homes.
An exclusion zone which is already in place will continue to protect properties and keep residents safe.
Superintendent Steve Raffield, local area policing commander for Reading, said: “I understand how distressing this ongoing situation is for all those effected, and in particular, those who live close to the building in question. I want people to be aware that all the emergency services as well as partners are doing everything we can to resolve things as quickly and safely as we can.
“I would like to reassure people that in the event of a collapse, they will not be in any danger and that measures are in place to ensure everyone’s safety. However, it is possible that a collapse could create a great deal of noise, as well as dust, and could happen at any time of the day or night, so it is important that people are aware of what may happen.
“If you become aware that part of the building has collapsed, there is no need to contact the emergency services.
“Our officers remain at the site, as they have done since the incident occurred, and anyone with any questions or concerns can approach them.”
Doug Buchanan, Area Manager at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our thoughts are with everyone affected in this challenging time.
“The damage to the building caused by the fire means that it is now structurally unsafe and, unfortunately, the building will now have to be demolished in a careful and controlled manner, which may take some time.
“The priority still remains to confirm whether those reported missing are within the building and if so, recover them respectfully and with dignity. As the weather continues to change, there is a possibility that the building could collapse further. The scaffolding and exclusion zone around the building will ensure that, should this occur, it will not pose any risk to residents or neighbouring properties. However, in the event of collapse, we would advise that local residents keep their doors and windows closed to prevent any dust from entering their properties.
“We continue to work with local partners in this challenging and complex incident to ensure that we can resolve this as swiftly and as safely as possible.”
Help and support continues to be available from Reading Borough Council and their Contact Centre is available 24/7 please call 0118 937 3787 and stay on the line to be put through to emergency support, to help or signpost you to appropriate partner organisations
Victims First can also provide free emotional support and information. The office will be closed on certain days over the festive period – check opening hours at www.victims-first.org.uk
When the Victims First office is closed you can alternatively contact:
Mind information line - 0300 123 3393
The Samaritans (open 24/7) – 116 123
Thank you for your patience and co-operation during this difficult time.