Boris Johnson visits Hackney this morning to praise firefighters
PUBLISHED: 14:30 12 August 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 12 August 2011
Mayor of London Boris Johnson visited Stoke Newington fire station this morning to praise firefighter "heroes" who put their lives the line on Friday night tackling the Tottenham riot fires.
The iconic images of the blazing carpet shop in Tottenham High Road, where 26 homes were destroyed, underlined just how bad the riots on Friday night were – and crews from Stoke Newington were some of the first on the scene in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Johnson praised the “heroism” of crews who battled to extinguish blazes started by mobs across the capital, and described the actions of rioters who prevented firefighters from reaching burning buildings earlier this week as “demented.”
Two fire engines each containing four fire fighters from Stoke Newington’s white watch were deployed to Edmonton at 9pm on Saturday night.
They waited for police approval it was finally safe enough to go in and tackle the fires begun by rampaging yobs - but when they finally tackled fires at 2am they still found themselves under fire from bricks and missiles.
Crew manager Gary Thompson helped tackle the huge Carpetright fire along with three other fire engines, while “white watch” manager Richard Barron was sent out with his crew to tackle smaller fires in surrounding streets - without the usual police back-up.
Mr Thompson described the night as one of the toughest in his career - even worse than being stationed in Northern Ireland during the 80s.
Hackney’s London Assembly member, Jennette Arnold, criticised the London Mayor for not talking to local people affected by Monday night’s violence in Hackney.
“He should be here speaking to the local people actually affected by the violence - the shopkeepers, small business owners and terrorised residents,” she said.
“I’ll be inviting the mayor to join me as I visit the effected areas around the Pembury Estate on Monday,” she added.