Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Terrified tower block residents scream ‘help, open the door’ as fire rages on

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Terrified residents screamed for help after getting trapped in a tower block fire covered in the same cladding as Grenfell Tower.

They reportedly shouted, "help, open the door" after the blaze broke out on the eighth floor of the tower in Poplar, east London, on Friday.

More than 120 firefighters tackled the fire, which started at around 9am and left more than 40 people in need of treatment.

The blaze, which was eventually brought under control at around 11.30am, ripped through the 19-storey New Providence Wharf development, near Canary Wharf.

The apartment block is covered in aluminium composite material (ACM), the same highly combustible cladding as Grenfell Tower where a fire killed 72 people in 2018.

Approximately 22% of the building's facade features the cladding panels, which were found to be a key factor in the 2017 Grenfell fire.

Two men were taken to hospital after suffering the effects of smoke inhalation, while a further 38 adults and four children were treated at the scene.

Joanne McCallum, who lives in a nearby block, claimed it looked like a scene from the hit movie Die Hard.

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She told The Sun Online: "The fire was on the street side but the people in flats on the garden side were screaming they couldn't get out.

"They were terrified, it is carnage."

Kate Gibson, 31, who lives in the flat next door to where it began, said: "I was at my desk in my bedroom just working away when I saw black smoke out my front window and then someone shouted 'fire!'

"I opened my front door and saw a lot of smoke in the corridor and so slammed the door."

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She added: "I served in the army for three-and-a-half years so I thought I would be okay, but my legs were shaking because of the cladding we've got on the building.

"It's the same as Grenfell. I know that because we get letters every month from Ballymore saying they are going to start removing it.

"They were supposed to start in April on blocks A to C, but they didn't because of Covid."

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Marlene Morais, 42, a fashion designer, said: "I went out of the building and could see all these people running and shouting.

"It was really scary, I had to take my child to her dad's because she doesn't want to be here and see all this."

Survivors and bereaved relatives from Grenfell said they were "horrified".

Grenfell United, a campaign group set up in the wake of the deadly blaze, said: "When will the Government take this scandal seriously? Enough is enough.

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"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."

A London Fire Brigade spokesman said: "Parts of the eighth, ninth and 10th floors of a 19-storey block were alight.

"Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus have carried out multiple rescues.

"The cause of the fire is under investigation."

Building developer Ballymore said in a statement: "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."

  • Fire
  • London

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