A state of emergency unfolded in Bristol as around 400 individuals, including approximately 100 children, were swiftly evacuated from Barton House, a tower block situated in Barton Hill. This evacuation, declared a major incident by the city council, was initiated due to alarming structural risks discovered within the building, necessitating immediate action to avert potential catastrophic consequences in case of a fire, explosion, or significant impact.
The evacuation directive came after surveys conducted in a few flats within the 98-unit block unveiled alarming risks to the building’s structural integrity. As a preventive measure, residents were urgently advised to vacate Barton House, allowing for further comprehensive surveys and detailed analysis to be conducted.
Efforts were made to contact and urge all residents to seek temporary accommodation with friends or family, emphasizing the critical nature of the situation. In response, the Tawfiq Masjid and Centre extended its support by opening its doors as a temporary shelter, offering beds, food, and beverages to those unable to find immediate alternative housing.
The evacuation process witnessed scenes of confusion and heightened emotions among affected residents, resulting in congested roads as individuals sought to leave the vicinity. Though efforts were made to assist those without transportation, concerns persisted, especially for individuals with pets.
Residents expressed a mix of shock, disbelief, and panic over the sudden evacuation order, highlighting the urgency of the situation. City officials, acknowledging the confusion amid the emergency, stressed the importance of maintaining composure during the crisis.
Acknowledging the severity of the situation, authorities, including Avon Fire and Rescue, affirmed the appropriateness and necessity of the evacuation as a proactive measure against identified risks to the building’s structure. While assuring no immediate threat to health and life, authorities emphasized the importance of conducting further extensive surveys to comprehensively assess the structural stability of Barton House.
Barton House, standing as the oldest tower block within the city council’s housing estate, was constructed in 1958. Speculation about potential evacuations in other blocks was dispelled by the council, highlighting the unique nature of the identified structural risks confined to Barton House.
As the situation unfolds, authorities remain vigilant in conducting thorough assessments to ensure the safety of residents while addressing the specific risks identified within Barton House.