Neighbours speak of their shock after Shadwell fire in which two men died

Neighbours in a Shadwell street were reacting with shock and horror to a house fire which has left two men dead this morning.

Firefighters were called at 1.16am to a fire at a maisonette in Chapman Street, close to Shadwell DLR station, which destroyed nearly all of the property on the second and third floors of the four-storey block.

Neighbours in the block described trying to rescue an elderly man, who lived in the house and is believed to have been one of the two men who died.

Abdul Monaf, who works at the Bonzor Bazar shop on the same street, said: “Everyone knew him as Bob.

“It’s very tragic, he was a good guy.

“We don’t know how or why it happened.

“He was in here yesterday – it’s unbelievable.”

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Another neighbour, who gave his name as Jay, said he saw the man, who he thought was in his 80s, calling for help from a window.

He said: “I couldn’t see his face because of the smoke and they had started to hang a cloth out the window so they could get out.

“We were shouting to him to jump, we said “you’ll break your leg but you’ll survive”.

“I went down underneath his window with some girls from the house next to his as well.

“We started to move a wheelie-bin underneath but it was too late.”

He also said that Bob shared his home with his son, thought to be in his 40s, and a lodger.

Aziz Miah, 31, was watching fire officers investigate the scene after going to Chapman Street at 9am when he heard what had happened.

His mother and brother live in an adjacent block.

He said: “My mum was awake at that time anyway so she identified that there was a fire.

“My brother phoned the fire brigade straight away and then went to get people out of the block.”

A neighbour who lived underneath the maisonette and who didn’t wish to be named, said: “I thought the father and son were having an argument at first, but then I heard things exploding.

“Then I could hear people shouting for help.

“I ran up to the front door but the smoke and fire was overwhelming.

“I know that they have gas in the kitchen so I thought I should get out of there for my own safety.

“The fire officers had problems getting into the block when they first arrived, they were calling to people on the first floor to let them in.

“Everyone was outside for two or three hours, you had kids out here in their pyjamas in the freezing cold.

“We got back into or homes after 4am.”

A police officer at the scene said police and fire officers were investigating the cause of the fire.