UK Fire Safety News

Inquest Opens into Lakanal House Fire

Three women and three children, including a three-week-old baby, lost their lives when a blaze broke out on the ninth floor of Lakanal House in Camberwell in July 2009. A faulty television was found to have been responsible for the fire, which spread rapidly through the block trapping the victims on the 11th floor of the building. The inquest will examine why the flames were able to spread so quickly and whether the layout of the block and the refurbishments that had been made to it over the years had any impact. It will also question why firefighters issued the order for residents to remain in their homes and wait for rescuers to arrive rather than evacuating them straight away.

A change in fire safety legislation could result from the inquest, particularly if there are found to be similar problems and inadequacies in other tower blocks. Indeed, there are concerns that too many blocks of flats have not been properly assessed for fire safety and could pose a serious risk to life in the event of a blaze. David Sibert, an adviser to the Fire Brigades Union, told the Independent newspaper: "The quality of too many fire risk assessments remains poor. "Too often they are carried out by people who lack appropriate knowledge. To do it properly it is necessary to get into the hidden parts of a building, behind walls and into ceiling spaces."

The inquest is expected to last until the end of March and will be held at Lambeth Town Hall. It comes after the Crown Prosecution Service decided last year that there would be no charges of manslaughter brought in the case of Lakanal House.An inquest into the deaths of six people who were killed in a fire at a block of flats in London more than three years ago is due to take place today (January 14th).

Crawley Fire - Block of Flats Evacuated

Eight people, including two children, have been rescued by firefighters during a blaze at a three-storey block of flats in West Sussex.

The fire broke out in the communal stairwell of the building in Broadfield Place, Crawley, just after 07:00 GMT. Residents trapped in their flats by thick smoke were advised by fire controllers to close their doors and use towels or sheets to block any gaps.

Five were rescued from first floor windows and three were led to safety. One man in his 20s was treated at the scene by paramedics for mild effects of smoke inhalation, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said. An investigation into the cause of the fire is under way.

Fourteen people die in Workshop for Disabled

Fourteen people have been killed and eight injured in a major fire at a workshop for disabled people in south-western Germany.

The blaze occurred at the centre run by the Caritas charity in the Black Forest town of Titisee-Neustadt, some 40km (25 miles) east of Freiburg. About 50 people were believed to be in the building when the fire started. The cause is unclear, but local media reports that there may have been an explosion in a store room.

The centre is reportedly used for woodwork and metalwork, but it is not known whether there were any flammable materials on site. The blaze occurred at about 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT), and flames were first spotted on the roof of the modern three-storey building. More than 100 firefighters backed by helicopters tackled the blaze - some, wearing breathing apparatus, braved the thick smoke to rescue a number of people trapped inside. But police confirmed that not every one made it out.

House Boat Fire in Oxfordshire

The remains of a man were found last week on the boat, moored in Wolvercote, following a fire on board on 16 November.

Police are continuing attempts to formally identify human bones discovered in a burned out houseboat on a canal in Oxfordshire. A post-mortem test on Friday failed to identify the person.

Fire at Altnagelvin Hospital in County Londonderry

Several wards at Altnagelvin Hospital in County Londonderry have been evacuated due to a fire at the top of the 11-storey building. Almost 50 firefighters and 11 fire appliances are at the scene. The police are also in attendance. The Western Health Trust has reassured the public that "there are no injuries and the incident is under control". It has advised visitors not to come to Altnagelvin until further notice.

The entrances to the hospital have been closed to all non-emergency personnel.

The Mayor of Derry, Sinn Féin Councillor Kevin Campbell has paid tribute to "all the emergency services who worked together to ensure the safety of staff and patients at the hospital".

Cooking Oil Depot Fire in Essex

Crews have been tackling a large fire involving 30,000 litres of cooking oil at a storage depot in Essex.

The fire in Little Warley near Brentwood was reported at 05:15 GMT on Tuesday after neighbours heard a "massive bang". Utility and Environment Agency officials were called in and neighbouring properties evacuated. The fire involved cooking oil, tonnes of paper and 3,000 litres of diesel. It was brought under control by midday. Officers found the cooking oil on fire in a number of different containers at the one acre site, a spokesman said.

Crews, who were brought in from across London and Essex, used foam and water jets to bring the fire under control.