High-rise residents raised concerns after Grenfell before flat 'inferno'

Over 100 residents were evacuated from flats in Edinburgh after a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning.

Residents of an Edinburgh high-rise that was engulfed in “inferno” on Thursday said they have had fire safety concerns “since Grenfell”.

Around 100 residents of a high-rise block of flats on Breadalbane Street, Bonnington, were evacuated from their homes around 4am after a blaze broke out.

More than 70 firefighters were sent to the scene with nine pumps and a height appliance used to bring the fire under control.

Crews worked for around seven hours to bring the fire under control with two firefighters injured as a result.

One resident described the scene as an “inferno”.

Building resident, Harry Williams, said the fire spread to around five or six different properties, and “potentially” up to around 20 flats could be damaged from smoke.

Edinburgh fire (Credit: Kat)STV News

“Due to materials on the outside and a lack of fire compartmentation between the different flats, flames have been able to trace through into other areas”, the resident told STV News.

Mr Williams said that residents of the building had been pushing to have materials on the building that were a fire hazard replaced since the Grenfell fire in 2017.

“To be honest residents have had concerns since Grenfell occurred. Grenfell was obviously a big wake up call for the industry and a big wake up call for residents in high rise buildings

“Immediately following Grenfell we started to reach out to our factors, and it’s taken until now for them to get to this position of understanding that they might need to get round to replacing the wood on the outside.”

Williams said that it’s estimated that repairs could take another year or so.

“Persimmon is coming with some solutions now but we sit day by day in a flat that is potentially a fire hazard and could potentially kill people.”

Williams said that there had been a lot of “being passed back and fourth” between factors and developers with no one taking responsibility for making the repairs.

“As residents we don’t care who is responsible, our safety is being kicked like a can down the road throughout this process,” Mr Williams said.

Fire in Edinburgh (Credit: Kat)STV News

As for whether residents think this is a wake up call for factors and developers, Mr Williams said that there was a fire in November of last year in which “no further action” taken.

The firefighters struggled to access the side of the building where the fire was due to it’s design.

MSP Graham Simpson, who was one of the people evacuated, said that firefighters could not get an engine up to the flats, and had to use ladders to access the building.

“I think there is a safety issue in that the fire brigade cannot get a fire engine up to the front of these flats because of the way they are designed, so what they’re having to do to get access from the front is actually carry ladders up to the front and put ladders up against balconies, it’s pretty shocking,” he said.

The MSP said the fire came from the fifth floor with flames “belching” out a flat before it spread upwards to the sixth floor.

A spokesperson for the building developers, Persimmon, said that they were “concerned” to hear about the fire, and that resident safety was their “priority”

“We have been acting ahead of government requirements to address historic build issues. This includes fully funding the waking watch on duty last night.

“We also have a contractor ready to begin works once their appointment is agreed with the residents committee. We will continue to provide all appropriate support to ensure resident safety.”

A spokesperson for building factor Lowther said: “The developer was responsible for the design and construction of the block, including the external cladding.

“Our responsibility as factor is for general management and maintenance.

“We’ll continue to work with the city council and emergency services to provide all the support and assistance we can to the residents of the block.”

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “Around 70 firefighters, 12 fire appliances and additional specialist resources are currently in attendance at a well-developed fire involving a high rise building in the Breadalbane area of Bonnington, City of Edinburgh.

“We received the call at 4.10am following reports of a fire within a flat.

“The building is being evacuated and firefighting operations remain ongoing.

“There are no reported casualties at this time involving members of the public.

“Two firefighters have sustained minor superficial injuries and have been assessed at the scene by the Scottish Ambulance Service. They do not require hospital treatment.”

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