Survivors and bereaved relatives from the Grenfell Tower fire have told the Government “enough is enough” after a blaze at a London block bearing the same cladding left more than 40 people in need of treatment.
London Fire Brigade (LFB) said 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 after the fire ripped through the 19-storey New Providence Wharf development, near Canary Wharf, on Friday morning.
Approximately 22% 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.
Survivors’ and relatives’ group Grenfell United said in a statement: “We are horrified by the news of the fire at the New Providence Wharf today. 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.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The spectre of the tragedy at Grenfell still hangs over our city. Today we have seen again why residents in buildings with flammable cladding are living in fear.
“It is vital that Government, developers, building owners and regional authorities work together to urgently remove the cladding from every affected building.”
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.
Pictures and videos on social media show part of the building engulfed in flames, with thick grey smoke pouring out of the block, several stories high.
One resident posted on Instagram: “When your building has the same cladding as Grenfell Tower. Oh my god.”
Residents congregated in a nearby building as fire crews continued to work on securing New Providence Wharf.
Some were still in pyjamas or wrapped in blankets while others spoke of having to brush their teeth using a water bottle.
Dozens could be seen carrying their belongings.
A large police presence was in the area, with surrounding roads and pavements taped off.
The fire comes just days after the introduction of 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.
Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: “It is extremely 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.
“Time and time again we’ve warned that another Grenfell could be just around the corner unless they prioritise 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.”
LFB said parts of the eighth, ninth and 10th floors were alight on the building, adding that it had received 13 calls to the fire.
It added: “The brigade was called at 0855. 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.”
Apsana Begum, the Poplar & Limehouse Labour MP, said: “For years now, constituents at New Providence Wharf, where there are 1,500 apartments, have been left vulnerable and unsafe due to numerous fire safety and building safety defects and the fact that ACM cladding remains on these buildings.
“The fire this morning shows just how serious this issue is and why constituents have been right to continue to raise alarm bells for so many months and having met with them again I know just how terrified they must be feeling at this time.”
“The developer Ballymore have promised action, but to date, constituents have not received information on fire engineer reports and details of any remediation works.”
She added: “It is simply not good enough for developers to say that they cannot act or that they are and then do nothing. They must act now and the government must act now and hold them accountable in order to protect residents.”
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, tweeted: “My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by this awful fire – and with all those for whom it stirs memories and fears.
“It is simply a national scandal that more has not been done by Government to remove this dangerous cladding.”
Ballymore said in a statement: “Our thoughts are with everyone who has been affected by this morning’s fire at New Providence Wharf.
“The safety of our residents is paramount and we are working closely with the London Fire Brigade.
“We can confirm that the fire was quickly brought under control by the Fire Brigade and is now extinguished. Our response team are on-site to support residents and assist with alternative accommodation where necessary.
“We will update once we have more information.”