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Friday, May 20, 2022

Whitechapel: 20 fire engines called to blaze in block of flats in east London | London

Twenty fire engines and 125 firefighters were called to a fire at a block of flats on Whitechapel High Street.

Crews tackled a fire on the 17th floor of the building. The London fire brigade mobilised its 64-metre ladder for the incident and said its control officers took more than 50 calls about the blaze.

The Metropolitan police said the building was being evacuated. By Monday evening, the fire appeared to be extinguished.

Smashed burning windows and smoke on 17th floor.
The cause of the fire is still unknown, a London fire brigade spokesperson said. Photograph: David Zambrana/PA

Firefighters were called at 3.53pm and crews from Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Dowgate, Bethnal Green, Dockhead, Old Kent Road, Islington and surrounding fire stations are at the scene. A London fire brigade spokesperson said the cause of the fire was “not known at this stage”.

The London ambulance service advised people in Whitechapel to keep their windows closed and stay indoors as fire crews tackled the blaze. A spokesperson said: “We sent 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.”

Evening shot of building with no flames visible.
The Relay building is said to comprise of 207 flats as well as office and retail space. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Transport for London’s incident response team also attended the scene.

Eyewitnesses at the scene said glass panels were seen to be falling to the ground from a height of about 100 metres.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said he was in “close contact” with the London fire brigade commissioner, Andy Roe.

The structure, called the Relay building, is a 21-story housing development that is run by Network Homes UK, a housing association.

According to the property developer Hondo Enterprises, which sold the building in 2018, it is a mixed-use development consisting of more than 7,000 sq feet of retail area, 97,000 sq feet of commercial office space and 207 residential flats.

It is located over Aldgate East tube station, between the City of London and the neighbourhoods of Aldgate and Spitalfields.

A spokesperson for Network Homes said: “We’re pleased to see everyone has been safely evacuated from the building.

“Network Homes is a leaseholder of 75 flats across floors seven-11 of this building. Overall responsibility for the building lies with the freeholder, and we actively engage with their managing agent on fire safety measures.”

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