Aldgate fire: Huge blaze breaks out at high rise flat as 100 firefighters race to scene

7 March 2022, 16:38 | Updated: 8 March 2022, 01:02

More than 100 firefighters are at the scene.
More than 100 firefighters are at the scene. Picture: Twitter/LBC

By Will Taylor

A large fire broke out in a high rise block of flats in East London, triggering a response from more than 100 firefighters.

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Twenty fire engines and 125 firefighters were sent to the scene near Aldgate East tube station with eyewitnesses saying the blaze - on the 17th floor - was causing glass panels to fall off.

Footage showed the fire raging from the 21-storey building, in Whitechapel High Street, and the London Fire Brigade (LFB) used the tallest ladder in Europe, at 64 metres.

The fire also affected balconies on the 18th and 19th floors. It broke out shortly before 4pm and was under control by 7.07pm, the LFB said.

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Station Commander Chris Jenner, who was at the scene, said a woman was trapped on the 17th floor.

He said: "She was given fire survival advice by control officers until firefighters located her. Fire crews used a fire escape hood to help lead the woman to safety via the internal staircase.

"Around 60 people evacuated the building with others remaining in their unaffected flats.

"We mobilised a 64 metre turntable ladder to the scene. This is the tallest firefighting ladder in Europe and allowed us to get water onto the fire from outside the building.

“The professionalism, hard work and quick actions of control officers and firefighters limited the damage to the block and prevented serious injuries.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Resident Jasmina Stosic told LBC she found out about the fire through a residents group chat, later calling her flatmate to tell her to get out.

She said a fire alarm did not go off on her floor, with another resident who lives on 18th floor also not hearing an alarm.

LBC was told the fire policy at the building was to stay put, so a centralised alarm would not have gone off, but the residents were unaware.

"Huge fire in #aldgate huge glass panels falling 100s of metres to the ground, awful scenes," a user called Jamie tweeted earlier.

Another Twitter user, named Hillary, said the fire was "massive" as she shared a video of the blaze.

The fire service's control room took more than 50 calls in the early stages of the blaze.

Fire crews from Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Dowgate, Bethnal Green, Dockhead, Old Kent Road, Islington and surrounding fire stations were sent to the scene.

A spokesperson for Network Homes - a leaseholder for some of the flats - said: "We're pleased to see everyone has been safely evacuated from the building.

"As soon as we became aware of the situation we sent a team to the building to provide support to residents, and they remained on site into the evening.

"Network Homes is a leaseholder of 75 flats across floors 7-11 of this building.

"Overall responsibility for the building lies with the freeholder, and we actively engage with their managing agent on fire safety measures."