Severe tower block blaze posed ‘serious risk’ to life

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Firefighters prevented a flat fire in a 14-floor tower block spreading to other homes after a blaze broke out late yesterday afternoon.

Starting at 4.32pm on Tuesday (May 10) Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service receive numerous calls from the public about a fire in a third floor flat at Five Spring Flats, Wauluds Bank Drive, Luton.

Fire appliances from Luton, Stopsley and Dunstable community fire stations were sent to the scene supported by the Luton Aerial Platform and the Red Cross’s Victim Support Unit.

Firefighters arrived nine minutes later and found the flat on the third floor well alight and began to implement their special procedures for dealing with fires in high rise buildings.

The Aerial Platform was deployed ready to be used to support them fighting the fire from inside the building.

When the crews arrived the flat was already extremely smoke logged and smoke was affecting other flats on the third floor as well as those on the ninth and 13th floors.

Firefighters entered the flat wearing breathing apparatus to protect themselves from the thick smoke and began fighting the blaze.

They had to negotiate their way through cables that had dropped from the roof space into the flat as they moved through the rooms fighting the fire at great risk to themselves.

Using two ladders, two fire hoses and a covering jet they had extinguished the fire by 5.30pm. They then used positive pressure ventilation to clear smoke from the high-rise building.

The flat was 80% affected by fire and smoke and the corridor and a neighbouring property also serious damaged by smoke. One neighbour was taken to hospital after being affected by the fumes and suffering from smoke inhalation. The family who occupied the flat had already left the property before the Fire Service arrived.

During the incident Fire Control gave advice by phone to those in the flats to stay put rather than risk suffering from smoke by leaving their homes.

A fire and police investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.

Ade Yule, Borough Commander South, said: “This was an extremely severe fire and posed a serious risk to occupants of the other flats in this block.

“Firefighters did a great job in preventing it spreading to other homes and in containing it and extinguishing it quickly at great risk to themselves. They did an excellent job of containing the fire to the third floor flat and putting it out quickly in difficult conditions.

“Smoke from the flat fire spread through the building making it look as if there were several apartments alight and causing damage to other flats, corridors and stairwells.

“We are specially prepared for fires in high-rise buildings and our training paid off, protecting other properties and the people in the rest of the building from harm.

“I would like to thank and praise our Red Cross volunteers who assisted greatly, but did so in quite difficult and challenging circumstances last night.

“I would urge people to ensure they have a working smoke alarm in their property and that they and their family have a plan of escape should a fire break out in their home or a neighbouring property.”