This week Greater Manchester Police declared a major incident after the human remains were discovered, more than two months after the blaze ripped through the mill. It has been confirmed that remains relating to one person have so far been found at the mill. Police said they suspect the discovery of the body is connected to four missing Vietnamese nationals.
The force received a report about the missing people on Thursday, July 21 ‘via Vietnam’. Detectives are trying to contact their families. The discovery of the remains was made by demolition workers on Saturday
Asked why firefighters did not carry out a search, Leon Parkes, Assistant Chief Fire Officer, said: “Given the severity of the fire, and there being no information to indicate there were people inside, we did not undertake a search. Following the correct safety procedures, we could not risk sending firefighters into such an unsafe and unstable building.”
Commenting on the original fire he added: “The cause of the fire is currently listed as unknown because at the time of the fire – and the weeks afterwards – we could not access the building due to the instability of the building and it being condemned. However, given what has since been discovered, we’re now working with Greater Manchester Police at the scene to safely investigate the cause – with specialist teams called in.
“I can confirm that Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service attended an incident at the site in May. When the fire service arrived at the scene they were met with a serious fire, a well-developed fire in the building.
“And secondly, there were some concerns about the structural stability of the building. We fought the fire over four days from the outside before handing the premises over.
“That’s why we are now reviewing the details of the incident and how we managed the incident.
“We will work closely with colleagues from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) and support them with their investigations so that justice can be served.”
Andy Burnham said “no stone will be left unturned” during the investigation into the tragedy. In a statement released this evening, he promised both organisations would be “working together” to “hunt for the truth”.
“The whole of Greater will be Manchester deeply saddened and shocked to hear this news and particularly the community in Oldham” he said.
Councillor Amanda Chadderton, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “I know people will be shocked and saddened by the deeply distressing findings at Bismark House Mill. We are working closely with the police and fire service as they seek to establish the full circumstances around the fire.”
On Saturday 23 July 2022, human remains were discovered, by demolition workers, at Bismark House Mill, Bower Street, Oldham.
Detectives from GMP’s Oldham district and Major Incident Team have confirmed that, on Saturday 7 May 2022, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service attended a fire at the premises which was extinguished over four days. At this time, it was not believed that anyone was inside the mill.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts said: “Victims and the bereaved are at the forefront of our investigations into deaths. As such, whilst work is ongoing to confirm the identity of the deceased, we are liaising with partner agencies to ensure potential family members in Vietnam are fully informed and supported.
“This news will understandably impact both the local and wider community. I can reassure members of the public that this has been declared a major incident to ensure both GMP and partner agencies respond to this incident in the most effective way. Also, that specialist officers are following every line of enquiry to confirm the identity of the deceased, if anyone else was inside the mill during the fire, and the full circumstances surrounding that fire. Any criminal offences identified as part of their investigation will be immediately and appropriately progressed.
“On behalf of the investigation team, I appeal to anyone with information to contact them directly or, anonymously, via Crimestoppers. They’re particularly interested in hearing from anyone who knows how the building was being used in the lead up to the seventh of May or who has information about the fire itself.”
Due to previous contact relating to the fire and missing persons, this incident has been referred to GMP’s Professional Standards Branch for review.