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Fire-hit block is dismantled.

A delicate operation is underway to dismantle the charred remains of a blaze-hit building.

Fire ripped through a half-built block of student flats, on Falconar Street, Newcastle, on Sunday night.

Giant flames towered over the night sky as more than 25 crews and 60 firefighters battled to contain the huge blaze.

The privately-owned building, opposite Northumbria University's pounds 100m new City Campus East development, was completely gutted and officers yesterday admitted the burned-out shell could topple down at any stage.

We told how work to make the site safe had been hampered by fresh, smaller, blazes starting at the site.

But now, safety officers have been able to start un-picking the wreckage and complete their investigations.

Brian Wilson, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service group safety manager, said: "Our concern is how the fire got going and spread so quickly. But we have been unable to gain access so far because the site is being treated as a crime scene and needs to be made safe as well."

The fire was started on Sunday night at around 9.45pm. The building is owned by Jesmond-based RM Accommodation and was set to be turned into a 58-room hall of residence for Northumbria University.

Eyewitnesses described the blaze, next to Northumbria University's new pounds 100m campus, as a "volcano" and firefighters said it was one of the biggest infernos ever seen in the city.

The Health and Safety Executive have been working with Newcastle City Council and a demolition firm to monitor the safe deconstruction of the building.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2007
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