A woman was killed today in a fire at a care home for people with learning disabilities.
More than 70 firefighters were called to the modern three-storey centre in Chingford as the blaze took hold in the early hours.
Fire crews arrived shortly before 2.15am to discover two floors and the roof ablaze, with black smoke pouring from windows.
Eight residents and four carers managed to escape but one woman could not be resuscitated after being found unconscious in a bedroom. She was pronounced dead by paramedics.
Local MP Iain Duncan Smith, visiting the scene this morning, praised a neighbour who dialled 999 after spotting smoke.
He said: “One person has died but this terrible tragedy could have been much worse. The fire brigade were here in a flash. Great credit to the neighbour who saw smoke and called the fire brigade. She deserves an award. The loss of life might have been greater. My heart goes out to victims.”
The cause of the blaze was not known and an investigation was under way.
The purpose-built centre in Connington Crescent houses Connington Court and Connington House, two facilities run by Sequence Care to support adults with autism and other complex needs.
Neighbour Beryl Smith, 74, said: “Lots of shouting woke me up. People from the care home were standing outside looking upset. Then I saw a tiny ball of fire on the roof and the flames shot along the roof. The residents were sat in the street for a couple of hours. Some of them were in a bad state and very nervous. It’s so sad.”
The home remained behind a cordon today as fire crews continued to damp down parts of the building. The roof was destroyed.
London Fire Brigade station manager Keith Williams said: “Crews expect to be here into the day, tackling hot spots.”