Residents Of London Flats Ablaze With ‘Grenfell Tower’ Cladding Had Been Trying To Get It Removed For 3 Years
Residents of the New Providence Wharf tower block in London are in dismay after the building went up in flames following years of campaigning to remove its dangerous cladding.
Around 125 firefighters and 20 fire engines arrived at the 19-storey block of flats, located on Fairmount Avenue in Poplar, east London, after a fire broke out and set parts of the eighth, ninth and 10th floors ablaze today, May 7.
The residential block is thought to be covered with the same type of cladding used on Grenfell Tower, where more than 70 people died after a fire broke out in 2017. The fire at New Providence Wharf fire has now been extinguished, though the flat where it started appears to have been destroyed.
Residents at New Providence Wharf have been fighting to have the cladding removed since the tragedy at Grenfell, with one Twitter user explaining that they’d lived there for four years until last month.
They wrote: ‘Thinking of all the residents who have been campaigning to remove this dangerous cladding for years and hoping everyone is safe.’
News reports released earlier this year explained the cladding had still not been removed despite the fact funding for such a project had been been made available years ago.
LBC correspondent Rachael Venables reported that work to remove the cladding was due to start this week and finish in March 2022.
Responding to the news of the fire, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said:
We thank the emergency services for their work to extinguish the fire in New Providence Wharf. As we await their report on the cause of the fire it is too early to speculate, but we are working closely with the London Fire Brigade.
The building has received £8m government funding to remove unsafe ACM cladding – this work was set to take place on Monday and we have been in regular contact with Ballymore over the last two years to make progress, including publicly naming Landor, their subsidiary, as one of the companies that has consistently failed to take action. Ministers have met Ballymore repeatedly to urge action.
We are spending £5bn to fully fund the replacement of all unsafe cladding in the highest risk buildings and are making the biggest improvements to building safety in a generation. It is essential that building owners take swift action to remediate defective cladding and the government will fund every eligible application. Workers are on site in 95% of buildings identified as having ACM cladding at the beginning of 2020 and we expect that work to be completed at pace in the coming months.
Sharing news of the fire on Twitter, Venables said it broke out from the fuse box of a flat and that one man is said to be in hospital with burns, but is expected to recover.
One resident claimed that alarms remained inactive for more than 30 minutes after the fire began, and that they ‘woke up to the smell of smoke in the flat.’
The London Ambulance service said numerous people had been treated at the scene, though the extent of their injuries is yet to be revealed.
A spokesperson from the service commented:
We have responded alongside the London Fire Brigade to a fire in a residential building in Poplar.
We dispatched ambulance crews, clinical team managers, incident response officers, a command support vehicle, Emergency Planning and Resilience officers and Hazardous Area Response Teams to the scene.
They’ve treated a number of people, and remain at the scene, working with other emergency services.
Grenfell United, an organisation made up of the survivors and bereaved families of Grenfell, criticised the government for having ‘completely failed’ to remove the cladding by June 2020, as promised.
In a statement, it said: ‘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, the Poplar & Limehouse Labour MP, stated that she had recently met up with constituents at the building, saying they were ‘left unsafe for 2yrs+ without reports, surveys’ and adding that the developer, Ballymore, ‘continue to build & profit’ in millions.
The developer does not appear to have responded to the fire at the time of writing.
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