Amesbury Fire - June 2023
A fire that impacted up to 16 flats in Amesbury required multi agency response and ongoing support from Wiltshire and Swindon emergency responders. Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and rescue Service and Wiltshire police were first to attend the scene to manage the initial blaze on Friday 9th June that impacted residential flats and commercial properties. Residents from 16 flats were temporarily displaced, thankfully no one was harmed during this incident.
Wiltshire Council was engaged to support the initial rehoming and safeguarding needs of the evacuated residents which included families with children. The nearby Amesbury Baptist Church opened its doors to provide a safe place for residents to use whilst emergency responders managed the initial incident. Food donations were provided to the temporary rest centre to support residents with hot and cold drinks offered to all managed by the Baptist Church.
Wiltshire Council social teams provided support to families within the temporary rest centre to ensure any specific needs of the residents were managed effectively and provided during such a stressful time. Residents’ meetings were held and included involvement of the Leader of Wiltshire Council, Richard Clewer, to ensure all those impacted by the event were kept well informed of the situation and the necessary recovery work that was being undertaken to safeguard the properties.
The residential properties were managed by housing association Stonewater Housing. Wiltshire Council Housing Services worked alongside Stonewater to provide temporary and longer-term housing needs for those residents who required more permanent rehousing whilst property renovations have been taking place.
DW Fire and Rescue Service are asking the community to stay safe this summer as they make the most of the weather and enjoy the great outdoors, whether camping, cooking or exploring.
This incident highlighted the importance of community engagement and resilience, through the use of the Amesbury Baptist Church as a temporary rest centre. Wiltshire Council is responsible for the safeguarding of communities displaced as a result of an incident with rest centres pre-identified across the county. However, for some incidents it is not necessarily the best option to use these pre-identified locations due to travel distances and uprooting from the community. Therefore, the use of temporary refuge places as seen in the Amesbury Fire, highlights the important of goodwill in the community and local level planning to identify adequate places of refuge should this be required.
Wiltshire Council is committed to continuously improving its relationships with the community to advice on emergency planning and incident response. This incident has been used countless times since to demonstrate a good example of community resilience and its importance to safeguard communities during times of need.