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‘It’s very scary’ says Orchard Village Rainham resident as wooden slats revealed behind metal cladding

PUBLISHED: 13:12 26 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:12 26 June 2017

A metal window frame attached to a wooden frame, exposed during fire safety works at Orchard Village. The wood and material is said to present a fire risk according to residents. Picture: Colin Nickless

A metal window frame attached to a wooden frame, exposed during fire safety works at Orchard Village. The wood and material is said to present a fire risk according to residents. Picture: Colin Nickless

Colin Nickless

“Why is it that people have to die to make this happen,” asked a resident as fire safety works began at an estate riddled with a host of issues.

A wooden frame, exposed during fire safety works at Orchard Village. The wood and material is said to present a fire risk according to residents. Picture: Colin NicklessA wooden frame, exposed during fire safety works at Orchard Village. The wood and material is said to present a fire risk according to residents. Picture: Colin Nickless

Fire safety inspections began at Orchard Village, Rainham, last week, and residents quickly snapped images of what lay behind metal cladding.

Colin Nickless, chairman of the Orchard Village Residents’ Association, said the pictures clearly show no visible insulation, fabric, and wooden struts beneath the metal cladding.

“You have all these wooden slats,” he said.

“A fire could easily transfer all the way up. There’s some sort of fabric floating around in there, and there seems to be no insulation, and air movement.

“It’s fuel for fire.”

On Friday, June 23, the Recorder carried a special report about the concerns raised by residents in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Mr Nickless said he too has repeatedly raised concerns about fire safety at the problem-ridden estate, much like the Grenfell Tower residents’ association did before the tragedy on Wednesday, June 14.

But their concerns were dismissed.

“In light of Grenfell, Willmott Dixon are hastily going around the estate putting right all the things they should of done in the first place,” he continued.

“Why is it that people have to die to make this happen?”

Mr Nickless described his feelings as the metal cladding was removed.

“Myself and most of the residents were shocked to see [how] a fire could easily spread.”

But a spokeswoman for Clarion Housing which owns the estate had told the Recorder: “The dangerous situation reported does not exist as stated.”

She added that the organisation was working with contractors and fire specialists on upgrading fire stopping in non-communal areas.

“[We] are addressing the concerns raised previously,” she added.

This offered little reassurance to the families who live on the estate.

“It’s very scary,” continued Mr Nickless.

“A fire could take hold in a flat and jump to a terraced house and spread rapidly to others.

“We have been told before that our homes are insulated and they weren’t.

“Why would you believe anything different? They have to put residents first.”

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