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More than 50 firefighters tackle Mile End tower block blaze

PUBLISHED: 13:48 29 June 2018 | UPDATED: 16:41 29 June 2018

The fire in Wellington Way. Picture: Twitter/@MuhbeenH

The fire in Wellington Way. Picture: Twitter/@MuhbeenH

Twitter/@MuhbeenH

A fire has broken out on the twelfth floor of a block of flats in Mile End.

Eight fire engines and 58 firefighters were called to Grafton House in Wellington Way.

Half of the flat was on fire but it has now been brought under control, according to London Fire Brigade.

Emergency services were called just before 12:30am and fire crews from Bethnal Green, Shadwell, Stratford and Whitechapel came to the scene. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

The brigade’s 999 control officers took more than 90 calls relating to the blaze, and around 40 people left the building before firefighters arrived.

Police have cordoned off part of Wellington Way to the public and are urging residents to make their way to the nearby Merchant Street community centre for advice.

Groups of nearby residents congregated outside the tower block, now blackened and scorched over four floors on one side.

The building is managed by housing association East End Homes.

Jamila Noor lives in the next-door tower block, Berkeley House, with her husband and three children.

The exterior of Grafton House in Wellington Way, Mile End. Pic: Yui Mok/PA WireThe exterior of Grafton House in Wellington Way, Mile End. Pic: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The 32-year-old said she would not stay put in her flat if a fire broke out in her building if she felt she could get out.

Asked if she felt safe living in her third-floor flat, she said: “No, I don’t, when we see one fire we just get shocked, because we think that our house might go up as well.

“That’s how it is when you live in tower blocks. One is affected ... everything is affected.”

Hazera Begum also used to live in the neighbouring tower block on the ninth floor, with her husband who has mobility issues, but they have since moved to a ground-floor apartment in Whitechapel.

Damage to the outside of Grafton House. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireDamage to the outside of Grafton House. Pic: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The 37-year-old said: “They still haven’t learnt the lesson (of Grenfell). I think these buildings need access outside so they can come out, stairs or something outside.”

She added: “Something major happens, and the issue becomes so big, but then after a few months that’s it.

“But we, the public, don’t have enough power. These people screamed, shouted ... everything. Things should have been changed after this (Grenfell) but it hasn’t.”

John Biggs, mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “We understand that the fire is out, and has mostly affected just one flat where it was contained, but a fuller assessment into the cause is ongoing. East End Homes and the emergency services will be managing the situation including issuing statements but as is usual we at the council are offering our emergency planning and support services to assist as necessary.

An investigation into the fire is underway. Pic: Yui Mok/PA WireAn investigation into the fire is underway. Pic: Yui Mok/PA Wire

“Residents are expected to return to their homes later today.

“Tower Hamlets Council is in regular contact with East End Homes and offering support and assistance and, we hope, things return to normal. The safety of our residents is and always will be an absolute priority.”

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