Manchester, News

Murder investigation launched into Chinatown fire

0 66

humanity-hallows-magazine-issue-4-web2

Humanity Hallows Issue 4 Out Now!
Pick up your copy on campus or read online


The fire that recently swept through a Portland street building, resulting in the loss of two lives, is now thought to have been started deliberately.

By Benjamin Francis Cassidy


On 25th November, it was confirmed by the emergency services that two men had perished in a fire in China Town, the news highlighting the severity of Manchester’s growing homelessness crisis. While the initial assumption was that the two men were seeking refuge from the bitter cold, and perhaps fell asleep in the building whilst smoking, recent reports have suggested that the fire may have been started deliberately.

The fire was first reported around 2.15am in a building that had fallen out of use. There was no knowledge of anyone being inside when the fire crews arrived and things stayed this way until between 6am and 7am, when reports of people being inside were heard from an unnamed source. The loss of life was later confirmed by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, following a team entering and bodies being discovered with the help of a sniffer dog.

It has since come to light that the two victims were James Evans, 57 and Wayne Bardsley, 51. Evans was affectionately known locally as Popeye, whilst Bardsley was nicknamed Uncle Albert. Both were identified by family members. Evans’ daughter, Leighann Kay Evans, who lives in Dublin, described her deceased father in the Manchester Evening News as a “jolly person”, and a “nice and happy man who loved his family.” She explained that the two men became friends after meeting on the streets, and Evan’s taking Bardsley under his wing when he was bullied. She wasn’t in regular contact with her father, but had spoken to him relatively recently.

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have been around the building after midnight, and believe that members of the homeless community might hold vital clues to help in the investigation. The Major Incident Team’s spokesperson, Detective Chief Inspector Amber Waywell, stated, “This incident could be suspicious.” She asked the public to come forward, explaining, “Anything you know, no matter how insignificant it may seem, could be vital.”

Such was the severity of the fire, that over 50 firefighters were involved in tackling the flames. They eventually managed to control the fire, but not before the roof of the building collapsed, following severe structural damage. It is not known whether the deaths occurred from the collapse, or from smoke inhalation. The building is apparently registered to a company in Hong Kong.

Tributes were posted on Facebook in honour of the two men, one well wisher calling the two men “Belting blokes”, and asserting that they will be “Missed by all.” The admiration continued, with the well-wisher, who appeared to speak as a representative for others, concluding, “Sleep tight gentlemen, we love and miss you, alas the angels will look after you both now.

Leighann Evans has set up a GoFundMe page to raise the funds for her father’s body to be flown home to Ireland for a family funeral.

Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting incident number 146 of 25th November 2016, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111

About the author / 

Benjamin Francis Cassidy

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More News Stories:

  • Interview: The Super Late Night on His Latest Track, Working as a One-Man Band/Producer and Keeping His Music Unashamedly Personal

    Manchester-based artist, The Super Late Night, is quickly taking the alt-pop world by storm. Boasting a tendency for dramatic hooks and powerful melodies dripping with synth – it’s little wonder why.  The self-described “emo but charismatic” artist, released his debut single, ‘Honey’, around two months ago. It is an emo-pop masterpiece, perfectly encompassing the extreme feelings…

  • ‘Don’t Die of Ignorance’: The Legacy of AIDS PSAs in a World of Coronavirus

    In the years before James Cameron’s Titanic, an eerie iceberg appearing on their television screens carried a very different connotations for Britons living in the 1980s. The ominous block of ice had hidden dangers – as icebergs tend to – namely, the word ‘AIDS’ etched out in large letters, hidden beneath the surface of the…

  • Crystal Tides Return With Indie-Pop Anthem ‘Monday’

    Featured Image: Rhona Murphy Portsmouth-based band Crystal Tides are back, with their latest indie-pop anthem ‘Monday’. Since their formation in 2018, the band have built up a strong following, resulting in many memorable sold-out shows in their hometown. However, with their penchant for catchy melodies and relatable lyrics, it surely won’t be long until they’re playing packed…

  • What More Do We Know About Shukri Abdi?

    Last July, aAh! Magazine reported on the tragic death of Shukri Abdi, a 12-year-old schoolgirl from Bury who was found dead in the River Irwell. A group of children were with her in the run up to her death. At the time of her death, it was widely speculated that her death was not an…