Fire breaks out at London tower block with Grenfell-style panels

·2 min read
<span>Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

A fire broke out before 9am on Friday at a 19-storey apartment building in east London clad partly in combustible panels similar to those used on Grenfell Tower.

The London fire brigade said 125 firefighters were working to put out the blaze with parts of the eighth, ninth and 10th floors on fire at the New Providence Wharf development in the Poplar areas of Tower Hamlets.

Smoke appeared to have penetrated six floors and one flat was visibly ablaze as firefighters doused the flames from an extendable platform, according to video taken from neighbouring homes.

The London ambulance service said it had sent resources including ambulance crews who had “treated a number of people and remain at the scene, where they are working with other emergency services”.

The complex of blocks, originally developed by Ballymore in 2005, is clad partly in aluminium composite material panels, which were also used on Grenfell, where a fire almost four years ago cost 72 lives.

Leaseholders at New Providence Wharf have been pushing for the ACM cladding on their homes to be replaced, but it remains in place. In 2019, they petitioned the council claiming the building’s developer and freeholder had failed to make it safe. It is unclear whether the cladding is involved in the fire, to which residents alerted the emergency services at 8.55am.

In 2019, Ballymore reportedly offered to pay only a portion of the cost of replacing the cladding. It is one of thousands of blocks that have been found to have fire safety defects.

The LFB sent 20 fire engines to the block on Fairmont Avenue.

Firemen at the scene in the aftermath.
Firefighters at the scene in the aftermath. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian

The LFB said in a statement: “The brigade’s 999 control officers have taken 13 calls to the fire. The brigade was called at 0855. Fire crews from Poplar, Millwall, Shadwell, Plaistow, Whitechapel and surrounding fire stations are at the scene. The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.”

The End Our Cladding Scandal campaign group said in a tweet: “We hope all victims of the fire in New Providence Wharf are okay. Grenfell was almost 4 years ago. How is it acceptable that works on some of the UK’s most dangerous buildings haven’t even begun. It’s only a matter of time before this happens again.”

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