2 hospitalized after fire at 19-story tower block in London

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LONDON

At least two people were taken to hospital after a fire broke out at a 19-story block of flats in London on Friday, the London Fire Brigade said.

The fire started at around 9 a.m. this morning, and it was brought under control by around 11.30 a.m.

A spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade said: “Twenty fire engines and around 125 firefighters were called to a fire at a block of flats on Fairmont Avenue in Poplar.”

The control officers received 13 calls to the fire.

Parts of the eighth, ninth, and 10th floors of the block were on fire and many people were rescued.

“Two men have been taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation. A further 38 adults and four children have been treated at the scene by London Ambulance Service crews for shock and smoke inhalation.

“… firefighters will remain on scene throughout the afternoon. Fire crews from Poplar, Millwall, Shadwell, Plaistow, Whitechapel, and surrounding fire stations were at the scene,” the spokesperson also said.

The cause of the fire is currently being investigated.

Around 22% of the building’s exterior had ACM cladding, which is the type as was used on the Grenfell Tower, according to local media.

In 2017, the Grenfell Tower erupted into flames and 72 people died. Last week, parliament passed the Fire Safety Act which legislates to make homes safer after the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Since 2017, those living at New Providence Wharf have tried to remove the cladding from their own building.

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire released a statement to local media saying: “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.”

Apsana Begum, a local Labour MP, told the Evening Standard, a London newspaper: “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.”

She continued: “Meanwhile Ballymore recorded profits of £80 million [around $112 million]through subsidiaries last year and their net asset value is estimated to at more than £500 million.”

“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, Ballymore said that work to replace the cladding was underway, and this Monday the contractor in charge was meant to take over the site.

Matt Wrack, the Fire Brigade Union’s general secretary, said in a statement: “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.

“The pace of removing flammable cladding has been glacial and it’s putting people’s lives at risk. The government must intervene and take quick and decisive action to end our building safety crisis once and for all.”

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