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Crewe fire: 'Fantastic community spirit' helps residents

Site of the fire Image copyright Cheshire Fire and Resuce Service
Image caption Many of the flats were destroyed in Thursday's blaze

Emergency workers have praised the "fantastic community spirit" after a "very rapid" fire destroyed 123 people's homes.

Residents at Beechmere supported living complex in Crewe were evacuated during the fire on Thursday.

The fire service said support was offered "within minutes" and hundreds of people donated and collected items.

About £27,500 has been raised online for victims, many of whom the fire service said "lost everything".

At least two people were understood to still be in hospital after the fire in Rolls Avenue, Cheshire East Council said.

Lee Shears, head of protection with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said it was "quite confident" the fire was accidental but investigations were continuing.

The service is also examining why the fire was able to spread so quickly.

"There has been a significant amount of fire damage to the building," Mr Shears said, adding no-one would be able to return "in the near future".

The service previously said the incident commander's decision to evacuate residents "undoubtedly saved lives".

Fire crews said they regretted being "unable to bring the fire under control soon enough to save your treasured memories and possessions".

Tracey Heath said her mother-in-law Julia Heimes had been left with only the clothes she was in and a handbag.

A wooden urn containing her husband's remains were lost along with a locket containing her son's ashes.

"It's things like that you can't replace," she said.

Image caption About 90 residents have collected donated items such as blankets, toiletries and clothes, the council said

Crewe Lifestyle Centre was used as rest centre and manager Dominic Crisp said its sports hall had been turned into a "makeshift supermarket".

"You can see from the clothing it has all been boxed up and put into size order now," he said.

The council said it was working with families, health colleagues and housing providers to plan future arrangements.

Image copyright Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service
Image caption Firefighters have spent several days dampening down hot spots at the site

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