Firefighters battle blaze in London tower block 'covered in Grenfell-style cladding'

Two in hospital after fire spreads across three floors of 19-storey building

Two people were taken to hospital after a fire broke out in a riverside tower block in east London thought to be covered in flammable cladding.

More than 100 firefighters spent three hours tackling the blaze at New Providence Wharf in Canary Wharf.

London Fire Brigade said the eighth, ninth and 10th floors of the 19-storey building were alight when crews arrived about 9am local time.

"Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus carried out multiple rescues. Two men were taken to hospital suffering [from the effects of] smoke inhalation," firefighters said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

London Ambulance Service said several people were treated at the scene.

It is understood that part of the building’s exterior is made from ACM cladding, the same material used in Grenfell Tower, north-west London, in which 72 people died when it caught fire in 2017.

Ministers pledged £200 million ($278.4m) to remove similar cladding from 170 privately owned high-rise buildings across the country.

But the programme was plagued by delays, with some buildings still on the waiting list for cladding to be removed.

Mark Cowan, who lives in the New Providence Wharf development, said he witnessed flames climbing up the building after evacuating with his ill wife. He is unsure when he will be able to return to his flat.

Mr Cowan said he felt unsafe living in the block, and that residents have been waiting to get the cladding removed for two and half years.

"We've had meetings with the mayor and Tower Hamlets council, who passed a motion two years ago trying to get the cladding removed from the building, but no one has done anything about it," he told LBC News.

He said Ballymore, the building management company, told him it had not removed the cladding because it was waiting for new government regulations to come into force.

Mr Cowan also claimed representatives of the company "giggled and laughed" at residents when they brought up their concerns during a recent Zoom meeting.

"The mental stresses and physical distress is immense, and they're not taking that into consideration", he said.

In a statement, Ballymore said: “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.”

Updated: May 7, 2021 06:33 PM

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