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'No fire alarms or anything': Furious Gidea Park tower block residents claim no safety measures kicked in as ground floor burned

PUBLISHED: 14:28 20 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:29 20 September 2019

Firefighters tackling the fire at Edinburgh House on Friday, September 20. Picture: Supplied.

Firefighters tackling the fire at Edinburgh House on Friday, September 20. Picture: Supplied.

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Furious residents at a Gidea Park block of flats insist no fire alarms sounded and no other fire safety measures kicked in as a ground floor flat was destroyed in a blaze this morning (Friday, September 20).

Firefighters tackling the fire at Edinburgh House on Friday, September 20. Picture: Supplied.Firefighters tackling the fire at Edinburgh House on Friday, September 20. Picture: Supplied.

A ground floor flat at Edinburgh House in Elvet Avenue was gutted by a fire which began at 11.30am and lasted 42mins.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Recorder their partner had been at home in an upper floor flat totally oblivious to the fire burning beneath them.

The resident said: "They didn't know anything about it until smoke started pouring into the flat - there were no fire alarms sounding or anything.

"They left the flat and the lift was still working. We've been told it's supposed to shut off if there's a fire.

Firefighters tackling the blaze at a block of flats in Elvet Avenue. Picture: Kim WildingFirefighters tackling the blaze at a block of flats in Elvet Avenue. Picture: Kim Wilding

"We've been given absolutely no training about what to do - no one has ever been round and said to us 'if there's a fire here is what you need to do'.

"It's something I complained about after Grenfell."

The resident said their partner eventually made it to the first floor of the flat, which was "so full of smoke that you could see nothing but black".

The resident's partner was forced to turn around with a one-year-old child in their arms and climb back up to their flat and hope the fire was put out.

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And the resident added: "Fortunately the fire brigade got here in time and got it under control, but what if they hadn't?"

Other residents made a host of similar complaints - many drawing attention to the fact they had no idea whether a "stay in your flat" policy was in place should a fire break out.

Some admitted they had working smoke alarms in their flats, but questioned why fires on lower floors did not automatically trigger sirens above to alert residents.

A London Fire Brigade spokesman confirmed 40 firefighters and six engines - from Romford, Hornchurch, Wennington, Dagenham, Poplar and Harold Hill fire stations - were called to the scene.

Half a ground floor flat was damaged by the blaze, which was brought under control at 12.12pm.

Fortunately there are no reports of any injuries.

The cause of the fire is now under investigation.

Edinburgh House is managed by Delta Tenant Management Organisation, which was formed in 2006 after residents voted for a tenant management group because it was strongly felt that the services provided by Havering Council were not satisfactory.

It is responsible for 276 flats, bungalows and maisonettes in Elvet Avenue and Durham Avenue and four properties in Squirrels Heath Lane in Gidea Park.

A spokeswoman for Delta declined to provide a comment.

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