More than 100 firefighters tackle blaze at ‘cluttered’ top-floor flat

The fire in north Woolwich came after the busiest day on record for fire crews.

20 July 2022

Around 125 firefighters are continuing to tackle a tower block blaze in a cluttered top-floor flat in east London.

Some flats underneath the 17th floor apartment in Dunedin House, Manwood Street, north Woolwich were evacuated, while people nearby were ordered to keep away as huge plumes of thick black smoke billowed from the windows.

Fire crews are also tackling a one-hectare grassland blaze opposite the block, close to London City Airport.

There are no reported injuries and the cause of the original fire is unknown.

Station Commander Keith Sanders said: “There were a lot of possessions and clutter inside the flat which made it challenging for firefighters.

“It can make fires spread much faster, especially when there are lots of flammable items such as newspapers or cardboard.

“Crews are working to bring the fire under control and smoke is now subsiding.”

The top corner of the 17-storey block of flats was left blackened with several apartment windows missing, but smoke is no longer emerging.

It came a day after the UK recorded its hottest ever temperatures, with firefighters facing their busiest day since the Second World War, with tinder-dry conditions causing devastating fires in grassland.

Woolwich tower block fire
The scene in Manwood Street (James Manning/PA)

Resident Mohammad Rajib Hossain, 29, said he was forced to alert neighbours because the fire that started on the 17th floor did not trigger an alarm.

He said he only heard about the blaze because one of his friends in a different building rang him to say she could see flames.

He continued: “I had to knock on the door, you know, they’re my neighbours, I had to knock the door and say there’s a fire.

“They didn’t know, some of them were sleeping. No one knows, there’s no fire alarm or nothing.

“There is no fire alarm in the whole building, it is inside the flat but not outside.”

Rolly Apao, 45, who lives near Dunedin House, described the scene as “a real inferno”.

Woolwich tower block fire
Emergency services at the scene (James Manning/PA)

Mr Apao, a healthcare assistant, told the PA news agency: “I noticed the fire because of the thick smoke.

“When the fire started, our neighbours were also curious and we saw people outside the burning building, the smoke was on the top floor.

“It looked like a real inferno… but I am glad as well because firefighters were able to tackle the fire quickly.

“(I was) scared, but I have to pay attention to my surroundings for my safety.

“We just had the heatwave yesterday which we (have had) to deal with mentally and physically… the heat is too much to bear.”

Fire crews from Shadwell, Dowgate, Dockhead, Shoreditch and surrounding fire stations remain at the scene.

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.