Fri. Jun 18th, 2021

OUTRAGE erupted today against government inaction after a fire that ripped through a London block with Grenfell-style cladding left 40 people in need of treatment.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) was called to the 19-storey New Providence Wharf development, near Canary Wharf, this morning, where a fire engulfed three floors.

Two adults had gone to hospital after suffering the effects of smoke inhalation and a further 38 adults and four children were treated at the scene, LFB said.

About 22 per cent of the building’s facade features aluminium composite material polyethylene (ACM PE) cladding panels, which were found to be a key factor in the 2017 Grenfell fire.

One resident posted on Instagram: “When your building has the same cladding as Grenfell Tower. Oh my god.”

The fire comes just days after the government’s post-Grenfell fire safety regulations, which campaigners argue could leave leaseholders paying tens of thousands of pounds to remove cladding on their buildings.

Grenfell United, the group for survivors and the bereaved, expressed horror at the news.

It said in a statement: “When will the government take this scandal seriously? Enough is enough. 

“The government promised to remove dangerous cladding by June 2020 it has completely failed its own target and 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. 

“We’ve said all along that another tragedy is waiting to happen unless this crisis is dealt with properly and swiftly. Our thoughts are with those affected.”

Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse Apsana Begum said her constituents who live at the 1,500-apartment block have been raising concerns about fire safety for months.

She said: “The developer Ballymore has promised action, but to date, constituents have not received information on fire engineer reports and details of any remediation works.  

“Meanwhile Ballymore recorded profits of £80 million through subsidiaries last year and their net asset value is estimated at more than £500m.  

“It is simply not good enough for developers to say that they cannot act or that they are and then do nothing.”

Work to replace the cladding was “under way” and the main contractor had been due to take possession of the site on Monday, according to building developer Ballymore.

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said it was  “alarming to see another high-rise building in the heart of London light up in flames.

“It should shame this government that four years on from Grenfell, there are people across the country living in buildings wrapped in flammable cladding,” he said.

“Time and time again we’ve warned that another Grenfell could be just around the corner unless [the government] prioritises making people’s homes safe.

“The pace of removing flammable cladding has been glacial and it’s putting people’s lives at risk. 

“The government must intervene and take quick and decisive action to end our building safety crisis once and for all.”