Police: Blaze in flats with flammable cladding was arson attack

Arson attack at Chapel Court

A fire in the bin store at Chapel Court, Crown Drive, last month is being investigated as an arson attack, the Met Police said. - Credit: Reece Lipman

Police are hunting an arsonist who set fire to a block of Romford flats covered in flammable cladding.

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that two fires on the Oldchurch Park estate, near Queen's Hospital, are being investigated as arson attacks.

Residents had suspected the buildings were targeted with deliberate fires, as both blazes broke out minutes apart.

Three fire engines were scrambled to Chapel Court, Crown Drive, after its internal bin store was set ablaze at around 1pm on Friday, November 12 - days after the Recorder had reported on residents protesting over flammable cladding.

Leaseholders were told last year that experts had found the block – built and owned by Swan Housing – was partly covered with Expanded Polystyrene Insulation (EPS), which posed “a significant risk of external fire spread”.

However, they do not know the extent of their building’s fire safety issues, as Swan refuses to let them see the expert reports.

It has claimed they must be kept secret in order to avoid jeopardising potential lawsuits against third parties who helped build it.

Chapel Court, Oldchurch Park, Romford

Initial tests on Chapel Court, in Oldchurch Park, Romford, found cladding likely to cause significant spread of fire. - Credit: Google Streetview

Reece Lipman, who owns a one-bedroom flat in the block, said residents’ concerns grew after the November 12 blaze, as no alarms went off, despite a large fire burning inside the building for roughly an hour.

Swan Housing declined to answer questions about the alarms, saying: “This matter is now under investigation by the appropriate authorities and we can therefore provide no further details at this time.”

Within minutes of Chapel Court being reported alight, a second fire was reported outside another block on the same estate – Coope Court, in Union Road.

The Met Police has now confirmed that it believes both fires were deliberate.

“Police received two separate calls on Friday, November 12, to reports of fires in Romford,” a spokesperson said. “The fires are being treated as arson.”

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Nobody has been arrested over the attacks, they added, but “enquiries into the circumstances continue.”

Police urged anybody with information to contact police by dialling 101 and quoting “CAD 3392/12Nov”.

Information can also be sent by Twitter to @MetCC.

Alternatively, independent charity Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555 111.

For more, read:

Fire breaks out at block of flats covered in flammable cladding

Cladding crisis: Romford buyers denied access to fire safety test results

Doctor lives in 'squalid' hotels after flammable flat blocked job move