Alarms fail as fire breaks out in tower block on Grenfell anniversary

Fire in Lewisham this morning. Pic: Yusif Ali

An investigation is underway after alarms failed to sound when fire broke out in a block of flats in Elmira Street, Lewisham, earlier today, forcing the evacuation of a number of residents, as London marked the first anniversary of the Grenfell fire.

After 16 emergency calls, London Fire Brigade  sent eight fire engines and 58 firefighters to the burning flats at 04.14am this morning.

Although the fire alarms did not sound, a sprinkler system in the flats helped subdue the flames. Neighbours were shouting and knocking on the resident’s doors to warn them.

Eye witnesses posted pictures and videos of the scene on Twitter.

LFB believe that the block of flats caught fire “due to the careless disposal of smoking materials.”

The fire was under control after one hour. No injuries were reported. The burning four-room-flat was in the 13th floor of the building; the balcony suffered most from the fire.

Firefighters from Lee Green, Deptford, New Cross, Forest Hill, Lewisham and other near fire stations were called to the site.

All but one of the residents later returned to the building.

Mayor of Lewisham Damien Egan said in a Tweet that the issue with failing fire alarms in the flat has to be investigated.

Today is the anniversary of the Grenfell fire. Last year, the 24-storey tower caught fire and caused the death of 72 people.

After the fire, Lewisham council commissioned a report which found three properties in the borough that had the dangerous ACM cladding that was used on Grenfell Tower. Earlier this year the Housing Select Committee for Lewisham said that the two properties on Hatfield Close and the third on Gerrard Close all had the dangerous cladding completely removed in December 2017.

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