Barking fire builders had downplayed safety fears

Firefighter attends to a building after a fire broke out in Barking, London, Britain, June 9, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

The company that built a six-storey block of flats in Barking, east London, which was engulfed by fire on Sunday afternoon had tried to downplay the fears of residents as recently as last month.

More than 20 flats were destroyed in the blaze at De Pass Gardens, which was attended by 100 firefighters and 15 engines, and a further 10 were damaged by smoke and heat.

Two people were treated for smoke inhalation but there were no major injuries.

The fire is believed to have swept through wooden balconies that went up in flames within seconds after a barbecue on one of them went wrong.

A London ambulance service statement read: “We were called at 3.32pm today to a fire in De Pass Gardens, in Barking.

Screengrab taken with permission from a video posted by @SyeddIslam of the fire at a block of flats in Barking, east London.

“We sent two ambulance crews, two solo responders and our hazardous area response team. We have a tactical commander and our command support vehicle at the scene. We also dispatched London’s air ambulance.”

The Guardian reports today that Peter Mason, the chair of the local Barking Reach residents’ association, had contacted Bellway Homes, the builders of the development, in May to ask about fire safety measures.

This was following a BBC Watchdog TV show about problems with two of the firms other projects. Bellway emailed Mr Mason back and explained how the construction method in the other developments was different to that used in Barking.

Firefighters attend to a building after a fire broke out in Barking, London, Britain, June 9, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

“We understand that these news articles are highly alarming for all residents of new homes and I hope that the above statement has allayed any fears you may have over the safety and construction of your Bellway home,” the email concluded.

The management of the development had already paid for fire wardens to patrol the block after the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, the second anniversary of which is on Friday.

However The Times reports that these were only on duty between 6pm and 6am.