High-rise fire near Grenfell ‘would have been difficult to witness’

Firefighters tackled a blaze at a block of flats in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, on Tuesday.

22 June 2022

A blaze at a high-rise block of flats less than a mile from Grenfell Tower would have been “difficult for the community to witness”, a fire chief has said.

Dozens of people were forced to evacuate the block in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, on Tuesday after an e-bike being charged in one of the flats caught fire.

Just hours later, firefighters were called to another high-rise blaze in the capital, on the 13th floor of a block of flats in Manor Park, east London.

Tower block fire
The tower block on Queensdale Crescent, Shepherds Bush (Victoria Jones/PA)

Jonathan Smith, assistant commissioner for fire stations with London Fire Brigade, said both incidents showed improvements have been made in tackling high-rise fires since the Grenfell tragedy in 2017, which claimed the lives of 72 people.

He said: “Yesterday was a busy and highly visible day for London Fire Brigade as we tackled two significant high-rise fires in the capital. My thoughts are with all affected by those incidents.

“The fire in Queensdale Crescent in Shepherd’s Bush was minutes away from Grenfell Tower and will have undoubtedly been difficult for the community to witness.

“The images from Grantham Road in Manor Park showed the intensity of the blaze faced by the first firefighters in attendance.

“Both incidents show how far we have come as an organisation when we deal with high-rise fires involving multiple calls, concerned residents and numerous partner agencies.”

Manor Park fire
The fire in a block of flats on Grantham Road in Manor Park (Terrence Stamp/PA)

He pointed to the use of new technology called 9Eye that enables callers to send live stream videos of incidents straight into the brigade’s 999 call centre, as well as the use of the 64m turntable ladder, the tallest in Europe.

He added: “We will never stop learning from these type of incidents and we will continue to strive to improve.

“We were still willing, ready and able to attend a number of other incidents and are prepared to meet the next challenge. Firefighters, control officers and other supporting staff worked extremely hard and I thank them for their professionalism and calmness under pressure.”

At least 30 residents fled the building in Shepherd’s Bush shortly after 9am on Tuesday as plumes of black smoke were seen billowing out of windows.

Resident Liiban Shakat described how his friend, whom he named as Abid Naser Mohamed, had started charging an e-bike battery in the flat when it began smoking in the socket.

When it was unplugged it sparked and the surroundings were set alight, Mr Shakat added.

Mr Mohamed was taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

The fire was brought under control by around 10.55am, which Hammersmith and Fulham Council leader Stephen Cowan said was partly made possible by the lack of flammable cladding – a crucial difference from the Grenfell Tower.

Around 100 firefighters were called to the Manor Park fire at about 2.50pm and about 60 people fled the building. The blaze was under control by around 4.45pm.

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