‘Large firework’ found during drugs raid sparks mass evacuation of city center tower blocks

A ‘large firework’ found by cops during a drugs raid sparked a mass evacuation of tower blocks in Manchester city centre. Armed officers and the bomb squad were scrambled to Deansgate Towers on Saturday morning (March 26) following the discovery.

Hundreds of people – and pets – were evacuated. Pictures showed residents standing in the street as the investigation continued into the afternoon.

A 100m cordon was put in place and people were told to stay away. Emergency services descended on the Owen Street buildings at around 9.30am, according to witnesses. A message from the buildings’ owners was sent to residents, telling them to leave ‘immediately’.

READMORE: Bomb squad and armed cops descend on city center tower following ‘discovery of potentially suspicious item’

“Please do not ignore this message,” it added. “Please kindly follow the instructions received and place yourself a minimum 100 meters away from the Square.”

At that point, police had released a statement saying a ‘potential suspicious item’ had been found. It was later confirmed to be a ‘large firework’.

At 100m cordon was erected

Speaking outside her building, Hannah Whitehead told the Manchester Evening News : “We have an app for the Towers for announcements, and we got a few messages telling people to evacuate ASAP.

“It was telling people to let all their friends to evacuate. We evacuated and the police have turned up and told people where to go, and a cordon has been put in place.

Residents waiting outside the building

“There’s tape all around, there’s lots of police and the bomb squad have turned up now. It is quite frightening. We are just waiting now. Everyone is bringing out their dogs and cats.”

Another person said he was woken up by armed police as they carried out a drug raid at a flat. One resident said he woke up at 9am and saw a ‘big police presence’ outside.

The scene at the police cordon

Councillor Pat Karney earlier tweeted: “It’s always frustrating for residents but the emergency services can’t take any short cuts on safety. The discovery followed a drugs raid.”

speaking to the manchester evening news, he said ‘serious concerns’ were raised following the discovery.

Greater Manchester Police have since confirmed a drugs warrant was executed at a flat. Officers discovered a ‘possible explosive device’. The bomb squad attended to assess the device, which was deemed to be a ‘large firework’.

A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs and firearms offenses. He remains in custody for questioning, the force said.

Firearms officers were spotted at the scene

Detective Superintendent Chris Downey, of GMPs City of Manchester CID, said: “Officers attended a flat on Owen Street earlier this morning to execute a warrant as part of an investigation into the supply of drugs. While in attendance at the flat officers discovered a possible The EOD was called to the scene to assess the device, which has since been deemed to have been a large firework.

“As a safety precaution a 100m cordon was put in place and residents were evacuated. The cordon has now been lifted and residents allowed to return to the buildings. We would like to thank the residents for their patience and compliance while we worked together with GMFRS and NWAS to ensure the incident was dealt with as quickly and safely as possible.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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