Fire breaks out at London apartment block with Grenfell-style panels

Some 125 firefighters work to extinguish blaze at 19-storey block in east London

Some 125 firefighters are working to put out a fire at a 19-storey apartment building in east London which broke out before 9am on Friday, the London fire brigade has said.

Parts of the eighth, ninth and 10th floors are on fire at the New Providence Wharf development in the Poplar area of Tower Hamlets. The building is clad partly in combustible panels similar to those used on Grenfell Tower.

Smoke appeared to have penetrated six floors and one flat was visibly ablaze as firefighters doused the flames from an extendable platform, according to video taken from neighbouring homes.

The London ambulance service said it had sent resources including ambulance crews who had “treated a number of people and remain at the scene, where they are working with other emergency services”.

The complex of blocks, originally developed by Ballymore in 2005, is clad partly in aluminium composite material (ACM) panels, which were also used on Grenfell, where a fire almost four years ago cost 72 lives.

Leaseholders at New Providence Wharf have been pushing for the ACM cladding on their homes to be replaced, but it remains in place. In 2019 they petitioned the council claiming the building’s developer and freeholder had failed to make it safe. It is unclear whether the cladding is involved in the fire, to which residents alerted the emergency services at 8.55am.

In 2019 Ballymore reportedly offered to pay only a portion of the cost of replacing the cladding. It is one of thousands of blocks that have been found to have fire safety defects.

The fire brigade sent 20 fire engines to the block on Fairmont Avenue.

The LFB said in a statement: “The brigade’s 999 control officers have taken 13 calls to the fire. The brigade was called at 8.55. Fire crews from Poplar, Millwall, Shadwell, Plaistow, Whitechapel and surrounding fire stations are at the scene. The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.”

The End Our Cladding Scandal campaign group said in a tweet: "We hope all victims of the fire in New Providence Wharf are okay. Grenfell was almost four years ago. How is it acceptable that works on some of the UK's most dangerous buildings haven't even begun. It's only a matter of time before this happens again." – Guardian