National & International

40 hurt in tower block fire

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According to the Evening Standard, more than 40 people have required treatment by ambulance crews after a fire at a 19-storey block in east London with cladding similar to Grenfell Tower.


At 8.55am on Friday, 125 firefighters and 20 appliances from Poplar, Millwall, Shadwell, Plaistow, Whitechapel and surrounding fire stations were called to the block at New Providence Wharf.

Parts of the eighth, ninth and 10th floors were alight before the London Fire Brigade managed to bring the fire under control by about 11.30am.

The fire brigade said “firefighters wearing breathing apparatus have carried out multiple rescues”.

It said 38 adults and four children were treated by ambulance crews at the scene for shock and smoke inhalation, and two men were taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation.

The building features combustible panels similar to those used on Grenfell Tower on approximately 22 per cent of the façade.

Residents at New Providence Wharf have been fighting to remove the building’s cladding since the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people.

It was discovered that New Providence Wharf is fitted with ACM Cladding following a report commissioned by developer Ballymore from Hoare Lea Fire Consultants/ Engineers, according to The New Providence Wharf Leaseholders & Residents Association (NPWLRA).

Ballymore said work to replace the cladding on the building is “underway” and the main contractor had been due to take possession of the site this coming Monday.

In a statement, survivors and bereaved relatives from the Grenfell Tower fire told the Government “enough is enough”.

“We are horrified by the news of the fire at the New Providence Wharf today. When will the Government take this scandal seriously? Enough is enough.

“The Government promised to remove dangerous cladding by June 2020 – it has completely failed its own target and every day that goes by lives are at risk. Today more people have lost their homes in another terrifying fire.

“The Government needs to treat this as an emergency and stop stonewalling residents who are raising concerns. No more games, no more excuses.”

Sources said Kensington and Chelsea – the council that presided over Grenfell tower – is offering help with temporary accommodation and has reached out to Tower Hamlets.

Apsana Begum, the Poplar & Limehouse Labour MP, said residents of New Providence Wharf had been “left vulnerable and unsafe” due to fire and building safety defects.

She told the Standard: “For years now, constituents at New Providence Wharf, where there are 1,500 apartments, have been left vulnerable and unsafe due to numerous fire safety and building safety defects and that ACM cladding remains on these buildings.

“The fire this morning shows just how serious this issue is and why constituents have been right to continue to raise alarm bells for so many months. My thoughts are with all my impacted constituents during this incredibly difficult time.

“The developer Ballymore have promised action but to date, constituents have not received information on fire engineer reports and details of any remediation works.”

Ms Begum added that there has been “a failure” to address a series of building safety defects from lack of hot water to broken paving.

“It is simply not good enough for developers to say that they cannot act or that they are and then do nothing. They must act now and the government must act now and hold them accountable in order to protect residents.”

In a statement to the Standard, Ballymore said: “Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this morning’s fire at New Providence Wharf. The safety of our residents is paramount and we are working closely with the London Fire Brigade.

“We can confirm that the fire was quickly brought under control by the Fire Brigade and is now extinguished. Our response team are on-site to support residents and assist with alternative accommodation where necessary.

“We will update once we have more information.”

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “It is extremely alarming to see another high-rise building in the heart of London light up in flames.

“A huge thank you to the firefighters who responded and got the fire under control so quickly and our thoughts are with all of those affected.

“It should shame this Government that four years on from Grenfell there are people across the country living in buildings wrapped in flammable cladding.

“Time and time again we’ve warned that another Grenfell could be just around the corner unless they prioritise making people’s homes safe.”

It comes as the Fire Safety Act, which is aimed at making homes safer following the 2017 disaster, passed through parliament last week.

The Government said it has created a £5 billion fund to remove flammable cladding from tall buildings.

But the fund will only cover removing flammable cladding on buildings more than 18m tall, with those in smaller buildings required to take out loans.

The loan scheme will cap costs at £50 a month for safety work on buildings between 11m and 18m high.

Homeowners have said this has left them trapped in unsellable flats due to the cladding crisis, with people planning a summer of protests to combat the costs.

A spokesman for End Our Cladding Scandal, a coalition of homeowners from across the country, said: “We are feeling deflated but we have been here before. We have got a band of Conservative MP supporters now and there will be no end to campaigning.

“We are taking some time to regroup and then plan a rally and protest in the summer.”

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