Fire breaks out at high-rise block of flats and offices in east London



A fire has broken out in a high-rise block of flats and offices in east London.

London Fire Brigade said it was called to the Relay Building in Whitechapel High Street shortly before 4pm.

Twenty fire engines and 125 firefighters are at the scene.

(David Zambrana/PA)

(AP Mean)

Footage from the scene shows bright orange flames burning through a floor of the building as debris falls off the side.

Road closures are in place, with the AA stating that the A11 Whitechapel High Street is closed both ways from A13 Commercial Road to Old Castle Street. Commercial Road has also been closed, it adds.

Lynn Ling, a London School of Economics student from China – who lives on the 20th floor with her husband Yuri, said the whole incident has been “very scary”.

Ms Ling, who was wearing a silver security blanket because she forgot her coat in the scramble to evacuate, told the PA news agency that she was alerted to the fire by a friend who FaceTimed her from the street at about 4:30pm.

She said: “I did not hear an alarm. I think there was a fire alarm on the ground floor but I could not hear it clearly on the 20th.

(Victoria Jones/PA)

(PA Wire)

“I went out of my door but I found there was smoke in the corridor so I went downstairs.

“I forgot to take my coat. It was very scary.”

She added that a fireman on the 19th floor was knocking on people’s doors to tell them to leave.

“He said: ‘Don’t be scared’,” she added.

“They were trying to protect us. He was nice.”

The 25-year-old said that when she was on her way down, a group of firemen “were about to go upstairs”.

Ms Ling said she did not know what had started the fire, and added that she was “very worried” about their possessions.

(Victoria Jones/PA)

(PA Wire)

Her husband that they are not sure they will get back into their flat tonight and will stay with their friend.

A spokesman for the brigade said: “Crews are tackling a fire on the 17th floor of the building. The Brigade’s 64m ladder has been mobilized to the incident.

“The Brigade’s 999 control officers have taken more than 50 calls to the blaze.

“The Brigade was called at 15.53. Fire crews from Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Dowgate, Bethnal Green, Dockhead, Old Kent Road, Islington and surrounding fire stations are at the scene.

“The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.”

The Metropolitan Police said the building is being evacuated.

A spokesperson for the force said: “We were called to the scene at 15.55 to reports of a fire on Whitechapel High Street by the emergency services.

“The building is being evacuated.”

London Ambulance Service advised people in Whitechapel to keep their windows closed and stay indoors as fire crews battle the blaze.

A spokesperson said: “We were called at 4:07pm today to reports of a fire at a high-rise building on Whitechapel High Street.

“We sit an ambulance crew, an incident response officer, a team leader in a fast response car and members of our hazardous area response team.

“We are working closely with our emergency service colleagues, more updates to follow.

Fire crews are seen tending to the blaze in Whitechapel (Victoria Jones/PA)

(PA Wire)

“If you are in the local area, please try and stay indoors and keep windows and doors closed.”

London Major Sadiq Khan said he is in “close contact” with London Fire Brigade’s Commissioner Andy Roe.

According to property developer Hondo Enterprises, which sold the building in 2018 and is no longer involved with the property, it is a 22-storey mixed use development consisting of more than 7,000 square feet of retail area, 97,000 square feet of commercial office space and 207 residential apartments.

It is located over Aldgate East Tube Station between the City, the financial heart of London, and neighborhoods Aldgate and Spitalfields.


www.independent.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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