A FIRE broke out on the 17th floor of a 21 story tower block in Whitechapel High Street late this afternoon, 7th March. The building is believed to be the Relay building, which includes flats, offices and shops and stands on top of Aldgate East Tube station.
The blaze was attended by 20 fire engines and around 125 firefighters from Londo fire stations including Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Dowgate, Bethnal Green, Dockhead, Old Kent Road, Islington. The Fire Brigade’s 64m ladder – one of the tallest in Europe – was brought in to fight the fire from the outside.
The blaze was severe, with flames coming from the seat of the fire on the 17th floor clearly visible. After the flames subsided, the area affected glowed red and appeared to have been gutted. Metal window frames and cladding were warped. The prompt action of the Fire Brigade seems to have brought the fire under control and it did not spread significantly to other parts of the building.
Black smoke rose high into the sky and swirled around the area, even reaching down into Aldgate East Tube station. Residents of the block itself described how firefighters came round and evacuated them. Nearby residents were evacuated, while those in the area were warned to stay indoors and keep windows closed.
Traffic was diverted and members of the public were kept well away as glass and debris fell to the ground from the burning building.
Local MP Rushanara Ali tweeted her thanks to the firefighters for their work – as did Tower Hamlets Executive Mayor John Biggs, who added that his thoughts were with those affected and that Council staff were down at the site giving practical assistance.
Sadiq Khan, London Mayor, tweeted that he was in “close contact” with the Fire Commissioner but did not reveal how this was assisting the Brigade to bring the fire under control.
The Fire Brigade is investigating the cause of the fire.
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