Blaze destroys 20 flats in east London, UK
20 flats were destroyed and another 10 have been damaged after a fire engulfed a building in east London on Sunday, 9 June 2019. The blaze spread over six floors of the block of flats in De Pass Gardens, Barking, at about 15h30, London Fire Brigade said. About 100 fire fighters worked for more than two hours to subdue the fire, which was extinguished at 18h00. The cause is being investigated. Crews from Barking, Dagenham, East Ham and other surrounding fire stations attended. London Fire Brigade's Andy Maloney said, "Crews worked really hard at the scene to bring the fire under control."
A man and a woman were treated for the effects of inhaling smoke. The pair were cared for at the scene and there are no other reports of injuries.
A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said, "We sent two ambulance crews, two solo responders, our hazardous area response team and London's Air Ambulance."
Resident Mihaela Gheorghe said she had "raised several issues" about the safety of wooden balconies on the blocks of flats. She added, "I was in my fourth-floor flat when the fire started. We ran out. The fire brigade came but they found it hard to find a water supply at first. We said that one day a fire is going to happen. We raised several issues to the builder, the maintenance companies and the council about the safety of having all these wooden balconies."
Mukhtar Raja, who lives nearby, said he saw flames when he looked out of his window. "The heat was unbearable and it was spreading so fast. I went outside and filmed the footage with my phone. The fact it was a tall building and the speed at which the fire was spreading was scary."
A barbecue on a balcony could have caused the block of flats to be engulfed by fire, according to its builders. Residents said concerns were raised with builder Bellway Homes about potential fire hazards. A Bellway spokesman said they it was "relieved that the fire protection measures... ensured that occupants were safely evacuated".
Bellway said, "We understand that the blaze was contained to the external envelope of the eastern elevation of the building, with initial reports suggesting that it was caused by a barbecue on a resident's balcony."
The London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire was still under investigation. Fire investigators and scientific advisers have been at the scene carrying out "extensive investigations", the service added.