28 Jun Flat fire near Grenfell Tower ‘started by charging e-bike’
A high-rise block of London flats was set alight by a charging e-bike, in a blaze that forced dozens of people to evacuate. The building is less than a mile away from Grenfell Tower where 72 people died following a blaze in 2017.
Speaking to ITV News, resident Liiban Shakat described thinking he was “going to die” after his friend woke him up and led him to the guest bedroom, which was engulfed in flames. The resident told how his friend had started charging an e-bike battery in the flat when it began smoking in the socket. When he unplugged it, the surroundings caught fire, according to Mr Shakat.
Speaking to reporters, he said: “(My friend) was in the room that caught on fire. He was in the bed. His mouth was black because he inhaled so much smoke.”
He added: “Something was coming from the bike, smoke, so he unplugged it. Now the debris, the plastic, the fire caught the whole place, the windows the bed.”
The flats at Stebbing House in Shepherd’s Bush in West London are situated close to where the Grenfell Tower fire took place in 2017. Despite current enquiries and a heavy focus on fire safety, residents have claimed that no fire alarm had sounded and no water sprinklers had been activated, despite the flames. However, Jonathan Stone, building safety manager at Hammersmith and Fulham Council, said fire safety measures taken by the local authorities had “prevented another Grenfell”.
Both Mr Stone and Labour council leader Stephen Cowan, who were on the scene in the aftermath, said they had been advised that the fire alarms had gone off as expected.
The council has a system called Fire Safety Plus, which has taken steps including installing fire safety doors to help residents stay protected. The fire was brought under control by around 10.55am, which Mr Cowan said was partly made possible by the lack of flammable product on the building – a crucial difference from the Grenfell Tower.