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Rowe Court fire update January 2022

Alert message sent 21/01/2022 15:55:00

Information sent on behalf of Thames Valley Police

Dear Resident 
The emergency services and Reading Borough Council continue to work together to investigate the fire and support affected families and residents. 
Tragically, we know that one person has died as a result of this incident and on the 30 December 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. Their families are being supported by specially trained officers.

Our priority remains to recover those within the building respectfully, identify them and return them to their families. 

Building stability – potential collapse
The building is unsafe for us to enter as it is likely to collapse. Our plan to recover those inside involves carefully taking down sections of the building in a controlled way.  The exclusion zone already in place will continue to protect surrounding properties and keep residents safe.
Planned demolition

The Police Victim Identification and Recovery Team, the Fire & Rescue Service , crime scene investigators and contractors are now working together to remove individual parts of the building. The planned approach is to dismantle the building from top to bottom, in 4m sections, working from the most severely damaged, right-hand side.
We expect this work to be ongoing every day, aside from bank holidays, into the spring months as it needs a careful approach. While it is taking place, we will do our best to keep noise and dust to a minimum. You may notice larger vehicles in the area as they’ll be used to take material away from the building site.

Due to the nature of the demolition works we will be taking every precaution to keep the workforce and residents safe and will ensure you have regular updates on progress. As we cannot be certain of the building materials used in the structure of the building, we will need to assess for dangerous materials such as asbestos, and fibreglass insulation as we begin to dismantle the building. As a precautionary measure, you may see workers wearing protective equipment. Please do not be alarmed by this, the equipment is to ensure the safety of those working on site who will be directly handling material. This is a usual and necessary safety measure in these types of procedures.

As the structure of the building is very delicate, we do not know if our activity will trigger a spontaneous collapse. If this does happen, please do not be alarmed. Our contractors on site are equipped to deal with this and there will be no danger to the public. We would advise you close windows to minimise any impact of dust entering your home.

Fire service visits

While work at the scene continues, you may see your local fire service in the area, as they will be visiting local properties to offer advice. If they visit your home, please be aware that they will always show you their Service ID cards before entering your home and our staff will also be wearing face coverings for the duration of their visit.
More information about fire safety in the home is available on the RBFRS website -

Further help and support 

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. You can visit their website for more information -  
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. 

Superintendent Steve Raffield, Commander for Reading local policing area, Thames Valley Police

Frances Martin, Executive Director, Reading Borough Council

Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service
Message sent by
Emma Tarry (Police, Communications Officer, Thames Valley)

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