Notting Hill fire: Blaze breaks out in London tower block near Grenfell

More than 70 firefighters are called after balcony on 12th floor of block catches light

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Friday 23 August 2019 13:33
Notting Hill fire: Blaze breaks out in London tower block near Grenfell

An investigation is under way after a fire broke out in a block of flats near Grenfell Tower.

Ten fire engines and around 70 firefighters responded to the blaze in Markland House, in Notting Hill.

Footage showed smoke rising from a flat, with Grenfell Tower seen in the background, as sirens were heard approaching.

The London Fire Brigade said a balcony on the 12th floor of the building had been alight.

“Crews are speaking to residents in the building to reassure them,” a spokesperson added. “There are no reports of any injuries.”

Almost 30 people called 999 to alert authorities over the blaze, which was first reported at 11.39am on Friday.

Firefighters brought it under control by 12.55pm but crews remained at the scene in the afternoon.

Fire crews from nine local stations attended.

“The cause of the fire is under investigation,” a spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade said.

Some residents said alarms had not sounded and expressed concern that there had not been enough changes since the Grenfell Tower blaze.

Halsho Draey, who has lived in the block for around 20 years, said he was angry at how the situation was handled.

The 34-year-old said: “I saw the fire extinguishers were only reaching the fifth or sixth floor. I said that wasn’t going to diffuse the fire. I said [to the fire brigade] ‘you need to go inside’, not to waste time. I witnessed Grenfell. How do you expect me to be?”

His cousin Dawan, who was staying in the same seventh-floor flat, said he had heard no alarms as he exited the building.

He said: “No sprinklers. No alarms, nothing. You would think after Grenfell they would have learned and listened. I just don’t think they care about this part of the community.”

Samantha Findley said she thought she smelled burning plastic in the tower block and immediately left her 10th floor flat.

“I smelled it. So I thought ‘let me get out, I’m out’,” the 41-year-old resident added. “I was concerned. I was very fearful.”

Firefighters put out the balcony fire in Markland House, Notting Hill

Standing outside the block, she gestured towards Grenfell Tower and said: “That was my first instinct when I smelled smoke. Everyone is thinking of Grenfell.”

Dhin Chittenden described how she cried as she ran down the stairs from her 11th floor flat in Markland House.

The 26-year-old receptionist, who has lived in the building with her husband for a month, said she was already fearful about another tragedy.

She said: “I kept thinking about that. If it’s happened somewhere else then it could happen again.”

A maintenance worker at the tower block knocked on the couple’s flat and told them to leave.

Standing in her slippers, Ms Chittenden said: “I just grabbed my phone, my keys and ran downstairs.”

The block was cordoned off by police, as officials took a roll-call of residents to ensure everyone was out of the building on Friday afternoon.

The Grenfell Tower fire, which killed 72 people in June 2017, sparked scrutiny of fire safety and construction materials in the UK.

The inferno was started by a fridge-freezer on the fourth floor but spread rapidly up the building’s exterior cladding.

Additional reporting by PA

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