Fire chief warns to keep landings and stairwells clear after high rise Hackney blaze

Steve Dudeney

Steve Dudeney - Credit: Archant

Tower block residents are being warned by Hackney’s fire chief to keep landings clear, after several people were trapped in a potentially fatal fire.

Six fire engines and 35 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze in Howard Road, Stoke Newington, on Tuesday of last week.

The fire was caused when a pile-up of items by the stairwell caught alight, blocking the exit to the building and leaving three terrified adults and two children inside until firefighters put out the blaze.

Steve Dudeney, Hackney Borough Commander of the London Fire Brigade, said: “If there wasn’t loads of stuff stored out there, the fire wouldn’t have happened as there would be nothing to burn.

“I understand that people have little storage room but these landings are designed to be kept free of combustible material.

“This is the same for bikes, buggies, scooters and so on. If you have something like a pram on the landing, first of all, it could catch fire, but it could also pose a trip hazard.

He added: “It just serves everyone to keep hallways clear.”

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Police are investigating the blaze which is being viewed as suspicious.

London Fire Brigade is also running a safely campaign called Stay in Place – warning people to stay inside in the event of a fire. It says flats and maisonettes are built to protect from fire for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60, and leaving a property in a block can result in rushing into choking smoke.

Mr Dudeney said: “If there is a fire in your building but it is not in your flat, stay where you are. If you feel trapped, open a window. Blocks are designed to be fireproof.”

He added: “Many people are also scared as they think fire alarms should be fitted to tower blocks but there should be no need if there are no combustible materials lying around. The main causes of fires are cooking or smoking, which is why we encourage everyone to have a home fire safety visit.”

The fire service works with landlords and tenants to conduct risk assessments on people’s homes.

To book a risk assessment or learn what to do in the event of a fire visit