THE RISING SMOKE could be seen across East London this afternoon, raising fears that history was repeating itself and another high rise building was on fire.
Fortunately, it quickly transpired that although a tall block of flats was indeed ablaze, the block was under construction and residents had not yet moved in.
The block was part of the Bow Wharf Development on Mace Street, Bethnal Green, a mixture of houses and flats given a “luxury” label and likely, therefore, to sell for inflated prices
Eyewitnesses reported seeing flames shoot out through the upper windows before breaking through the roof, leaving the building almost gutted. The building is near the Cranbrook estate, where questions about the safety of tower blocks have been raised.
Eighty firefighters were deployed to combat the fire which was all the more difficult to reach given its waterside location.
A spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade confirmed that there were 12 appliances in attendance. The fire came three and a half years after the closure of Bow fire station amid warnings from firefighters and locals that the reduction in appliances stationed locally threatened unacceptable increases in response times.
The building’s access issues – its proximity to the water and other buildings give added urgency to Cllr Maium Miah’s questions to the Council about safety elsewhere in Tower Hamlets. Several high rise buildings nestle very close together, often with one or more sides cut off by water, and the public has an interest in knowing how fire safety was assessed when planning permissions were granted.