Over 125 firefighters tackle blaze in ACM clad block

A fire broke out at New Providence Wharf, a high-rise residential building in East London, where cladding was due to be removed starting this week.

London Fire Brigade firefighters tackled a blaze in a 19-storey building where parts of the 8th, 9th and 10th floor were alight. Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus carried out multiple rescues and two men were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

The London Ambulance Service said they had treated a number of people at the scene, working with the other emergency services.

The fire broke out at 0855 on Friday 7 May and was under control by 1132, but firefighters remained on the scene.

Back in 2019, Inside Housing reported on arguments between Ballymore, the owner of the block, and residents over who should pay for cladding remediation costs.

A tweet from Inside Housing journalist, Jack Simpson included correspondence from Ballymore about remediation work that was due to start in April 2021. It said:

“The work needed to replace the ACM cladding on this building is extremely complicated. Our building is horseshoe-shaped, opens directly onto the River Thames, accommodates 559 apartments across five blocks and is fully occupied by more than 1,000 residents. To replace elements of a building façade, under this set of circumstances, is an extensive process.”

Responding to the fire, Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union described the process of cladding remediation as ‘glacial’. He said:

“It is extremely alarming to see another high-rise building in the heart of London light up in flames. A huge thank you to the firefighters who responded and got the fire under control  so quickly and our thoughts are with all those affected.

“It should shame this government that four years on from Grenfell there are people in this country living in buildings wrapped in flammable cladding. Time and time again we’ve warned that another Grenfell could be just around the corner unless they prioritise making people’s homes safe.”

A representative of Grenfell United said:

“The government promised to remove dangerous cladding by June 2020 it has completely failed its own target and every day that goes by, lives are at risk. Today, more people have lost their homes in another terrifying fire.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London responded to the fire. He said:

“It is vital that government, developers, building owners and local and regional authorities work together to urgently remove the cladding from every affected building. If re-elected (as Mayor of London) I am absolutely committed to doing that.”

London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Photo credit: London Fire Brigade