Woman dies in fire at block of flats in north London

Witnesses reported the four-storey building being engulfed in flames in middle of night

Handout photo from the London Fire Brigade of crews tackling a fire on Daleham Gardens, Hampstead, on Tuesday. Photograph: LFB/PA

Handout photo from the London Fire Brigade of crews tackling a fire on Daleham Gardens, Hampstead, on Tuesday. Photograph: LFB/PA

 

A woman has died after a fire ripped through a block of flats in north London.

Witnesses reported the four-storey building in Daleham Gardens, Hampstead, being engulfed in flames, forcing residents to flee to safety in the middle of the night.

Retired teacher Aura Romero said she escaped from her flat with no time to fetch her shoes after being woken in the middle of the night by a concerned neighbour.

The 72-year-old, originally from Colombia, said: “I was already asleep in bed when it happened.

“I heard all these people running and shouting, someone knocked on my door and said: ‘Come out! Come out!’

“I saw the fire, the house was burning so badly.

“How did it start? I just don’t know, I am struggling to think because it seemed like it was in a store cupboard.

“I was not able to take any possessions with me, it was a big rush.

“We were pushed out of the property really, I couldn’t take my handbag or anything, no coat, no shoes.

“I was able to get dressed but there was no time for shoes, I was walking around in the street in my socks until a gentleman gave me a coat and some shoes.

“I’m okay physically but I am obviously quite upset. I cannot cry or do anything. I don’t know where I’m going to live. I’m going to see if I can get somewhere to stay with a friend.”

Miss Romero said the block contained 15 flats, eight of which were occupied.

She said she had lived in the property for 42 years, having originally only expected to stay for three months, and took advantage of a buy-to-let scheme to purchase the former council flat.

“There were people of all ages living here,” she said.

“Some were young children, there were families, and there are others who are my age.

“It is so upsetting. I don’t know who died but it was a lady.”

Some 60 firefighters tackled the blaze, while around 20 people fled the building before crews arrived when the alarm was raised at 1.52am on Tuesday.

One woman who was rescued from the building died at the scene, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) said.

No further details have been released about the casualty.

The LFB said fire had damaged part of the first, second and third floors of the building, with the roof completely reduced to charred fragments.

The fire was brought under control by 5am, although firefighters remained at the scene and motorists were advised to avoid the area.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, the LFB said.–PA