Environment minister to order review of estate blaze

An independent review into the destruction of a terrace of six homes in a fire in less than 30 minutes is to be ordered by Environment Minister Alan Kelly.

Environment minister to order review of estate blaze

The review opens up the possibility of some form of compensation being paid out to homeowners in housing estates that are found to have major deficiencies, particularly in relation to fire safety.

The fire at Millfield Manor estate, Newbridge, Co Kildare, saw the timber-frame homes burnt to the ground on March 31.

In light of the lack of fire resistance, Kildare County Council commissioned a report which confirmed major deficiencies in relation to fire safety that would have to be addressed to render the homes safe.

The council refused to publish the report but officials gave copies to residents and owners and said it was up to them to take action. Two other individual reports commissioned by home-owners provided further confirmation on deficiencies in the estate of 90 houses.

Most of the homeowners feared they would be unable to meet the cost of the remedial work. Local Labour TD Jack Wall organised for a delegation to meet Mr Kelly. Mr Wall confirmed the minister is to order the review.

“It is a serious situation that has to be investigated. If it’s negative we’ll have to see what has to be done.”

Kildare County Council this week unanimously passed a motion from Independent councillor Willie Crowley instructing the council to conduct 100% inspections on all new buildings. Previously, local authorities had a target of 15% inspections. Few are believed to achieve that level.

“This is a national first and I believe Kildare County Council can give a lead to the rest of the country,” said Mr Crowley. “We need to move away from the failed system of self-certification.”

Under current legislation, single-occupancy units such as houses do not require a fire certificate and therefore the State has no legal responsibility if fire safety deficiencies are uncovered.

A review sponsored by the environment minister opens up the possibility of the State involving itself in compensating homeowners for deficiencies that have rendered their homes unsafe.

Since the evacuation of Priory Hall in north Dublin in 2011, a number of developments built in 2002 to 2007 have been found to have serious fire safety deficiencies.

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