People who live in flats that were destroyed by a 'shocking' fire have described the 'traumatising' moment they realised they were about to lose their homes. 

A fire broke out at Sandell Place in Amesbury at approximately 7.09pm on Friday, June 9, with fire crews from across Wiltshire and Hampshire tackling the blaze. 

Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service said the three-storey building was “well-alight on arrival” and two crews remained on the scene overnight to monitor the situation after the stop came at 1.56am.

All residents were safely evacuated with no rescues taking place, the fire service added. The Salisbury Journal understands that 16 flats have been affected. Salisbury Journal: Ben ApplebyBen Appleby (Image: Matt Rooks-Taylor)

Ben Appleby told the Salisbury Journal that he was "Alerted by banging on the door and screaming at about 7 O'clock on Friday night.

"We thought it was just children messing about at first but it kept on and we heard 'fire fire fire'.

READ MORE: Food bank supporting families after 'horror' fire that ripped through flats

"Luckily two members of staff at One Stop dropped everything to come in and alerted us, along with a couple of members of the public we were lucky to get out when we did to be honest.

"Smoke was everywhere, we had ash down our faces."

Ben shared concerns about the management of Stonewater Housing who owns the flats. 

He said: "I've had problems with Stonewater in the past, leaking roofs, causing black mould which some residents have just been told to paint over.

"I alerted Stonewater about flytipping in the bin area back in April, I told them there and then that it's a fire hazard waiting to happen.

"They just don't care, it just feels like we're left to get on with life and be happy with what we've got."Salisbury Journal: Chris BonellaChris Bonella (Image: Matt Rooks-Taylor)

Chris Bonella managed to get his family out of the burning block safely. 

He said "My son works nights, so I had to get him out of bed, there was heavy black smoke and my initial reaction watching it from the car park was that I'm just gonna watch everything I own go up in smoke."

READ MORE: Amesbury fire is still being investigated by fire service

Mr Bonella added: "Stonewater are not very quick at organising anything, a lot of us are still in limbo here. I have stated to them before that this was a disaster waiting to happen, and now look at it."Salisbury Journal: Terry MatthewsTerry Matthews (Image: Matt Rooks-Taylor)

Terry Matthews was in the bath when the fire started, he told the Journal how he was startled by neighbours "kicking the door, telling me to get out."

"It was shocking. It's only just getting to me now. Luckily I've been able to stay at a friend's until now.

Terry told the Journal how he is in remission after receiving cancer treatment, and how the fire has affected his mental wellbeing.

"I don't want to go back in, I'm traumatised. I can't go back in."

He added: "We’ve always had issues with the doors, they need proper locks. There are always people pulling it open.

"I always find homeless people asleep inside. Other residents have told me they experienced rain coming through ceilings, and I had a bit of damp in mine."

An online fundraiser has been set up by a neighbour Jordan Evans, 29 which has raised nearly £800 and can be viewed here.

Statement from Stonewater addressing concerns


Dave Lockerman, director of housing operations at Stonewater, told the Journal: "Thankfully, everyone is safe and no one was hurt. We’re grateful for the quick response from Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service and will be assisting them with their enquiries as they investigate the cause of the fire.

“The building’s last fire safety check was carried out six months ago. All inspection requirements and certification are up to date. 

"Sandell Place has a ‘stay put, if safe’ fire safety strategy. As is usual with this approach, there is no communal system but rather smoke vents, fire doors and also individual smoke detection alarms within each flat.

"The building has been designed to contain the spread of fire and those design elements appear to have worked as they should. Fire instructions are displayed on the ground floor of the building and all residents are advised of the required procedures at the start of their tenancy.

“We understand this has been a frightening experience for residents which may have highlighted other concerns. We conduct regular estate inspections and have no outstanding complaints relating to fire safety on our system, but want everyone to feel safe and happy in their homes so will look into any points raised as a matter of priority.”