Disabled mum's heat detector disconnected at time blaze broke out in block

The gutted flat in Foulger's Opening in Norwich 

The gutted flat in Foulgers Opening in Norwich - Credit: Contributed

An apology has been issued to a disabled woman after it was revealed a heat detector was disconnected in her home at the time a fire broke out in the flat above. 

Karen Bishop's flat has been destroyed following the blaze in the property above her own this week.

She is was among those who fled from the block in Foulgers Opening, off Ber Street, after arson was committed in the early hours of Thursday, April 28. 

The 50-year-old is temporarily living with her son-in-law Justin Ward and his wife, both 30, as well as their three kids in Newton Flotman. 

Police confirmed on Friday that Wayne Emerson, 35, of Foulgers Opening, has been charged with arson with intent to endanger life.

And Ms Bishop, who is on disability benefits, has been left without any of her possessions after her flat was gutted.

Fire crews at Foulgers Opening following an arson attack 

Fire crews at Foulgers Opening following an arson attack - Credit: Contributed

Her housing provider Orbit has confirmed a heat detector and lights in Ms Bishop's kitchen had been disconnected at the time of the incident due to a leak from the flat above.

A spokeswoman for the company said: "We agree that we have not met our own high standards with regards to reinstating the heat detector in a timely fashion.  

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“We prioritise the safety of our customers and we pride ourselves on our safety record.  

"Over the last five years we have worked hard to ensure that all of our properties have smoke detectors, even though this is not legally required in social housing.  

"However, it is clear that an error has been made in this case, where we have taken far too long to replace this heat detector and we are sorry for this." 

Orbit has been in close contact with Ms Bishop including offering temporary hotel accommodation - which was declined. 

Following an inspection and communication with tenants, Orbit said it was determined two occupied flats should be decanted until the block was cleaned and made safe. 

The back of the flat that caught fire in Foulgers Opening, Norwich.

The back of the flat that caught fire in Foulgers Opening, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Mr Ward said his mother-in-law was alerted to the fire not by a fire alarm but by her dogs barking and "acting strangely".

However Orbit stated there was a fully-functioning, hardwired smoke detection system in place when the fire broke out.

Mr Ward added: "It is uninhabitable. We were worried about the ceiling falling through."