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Residents ‘fearful’ as fire breaks out at block of flats near Grenfell Tower

London Fire Brigade sent around 70 firefighters and 10 engines to the scene in Darfield Way, Notting Hill.

Firefighters at Markland House (Victoria Jones/PA)
Firefighters at Markland House (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Aine Fox and Catherine Wylie, PA

A fire at a block of flats close to Grenfell Tower had residents fearing a blaze similar to the one that killed 72 people in June 2017.

Around 70 firefighters and 10 engines were sent to a 12th-floor balcony at Markland House in Darfield Way, Notting Hill, west London, on Friday morning.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said crews are speaking to residents in the building, which is a short walk away from Grenfell Tower, to reassure them.

Firefighters were called at 11.39am about “smoke issuing” from a building, with 999 control officers taking 27 calls to the incident.

Scotland Yard said there were no reports of any injuries, while LFB said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Miguel Alves, who survived the Grenfell Tower blaze, was passing the area when he saw fire engines and police.

He said his first concern was whether anyone had been hurt and that memories of what happened on the night of the Grenfell fire “came to my mind straight away”.

He said: “I feel shocked because it’s only 200 metres or 300 or 400 metres anyway from Grenfell Tower. It’s in the same area. It’s difficult to believe something happened again in the same area.”

Mr Alves was one of the first residents to discover the Grenfell Tower fire, and several residents on the 13th floor where he lived were woken by his knocking and decided to flee the building, contrary to fire brigade advice.

Markland House resident Samantha Findley, 41, said she smelled what she thought was burning plastic in the tower block and immediately left her 10th-floor flat.

She told the PA news agency: “I smelled it. So I thought ‘Let me get out, I’m out’. I grabbed my keys, my phone. I’m out. I’m not seeing where it is or anything. I’m out.”

She added: “I was concerned. I was very fearful.”

Standing looking at the block and pointing towards Grenfell Tower, she said: “That’s Grenfell there, as you can see. That was my first instinct when I smelled smoke. Everyone is thinking of Grenfell.”

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Crews remain on the scene (Victoria Jones/PA)

Dhin Chittenden said she cried as she ran down the steps from her 11th-floor flat in Markland House.

The 26-year-old receptionist, who has lived in the building with her husband for a month, said she was already fearful about another Grenfell Tower-type tragedy before Friday’s fire broke out.

She said: “I kept thinking about that. If it’s happened somewhere else then it could happen again.”

A maintenance worker at the tower block knocked on the door of the couple’s flat and told them to leave.

Standing in her slippers, Ms Chittenden said: “I just grabbed my phone, my keys and ran downstairs.”

Ms Chittenden’s husband, Fernando Villanueva, said: “When I opened the door (to leave the flat), I saw the smoke coming out of the lift.

“My wife, she was thinking of Grenfell Tower. She knows what happened there and was very concerned.”

Before the fire was put out, Danielle Bond, who was watching on from a nearby office block, claimed the fire had spread to six floors, telling PA: “The fire is spreading upwards. Don’t know what it’s like inside but flames are going up the building on one side.”

LFB said the blaze was under control by 12.55pm but that crews would remain on the scene on Friday afternoon.

Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said: “The London Fire Brigade were there quickly and look like they have everything under control. Obviously we will need to investigate the causes of the fire, but at the moment I am just thankful that everyone is safe.

“This community saw the Grenfell tragedy happen two years ago and I am fully aware of the impact that had on individuals.

“Our officers are on site, with NHS colleagues, and a respite centre has been opened for anyone who needs support. We have water and items for children on site as well.”

A respite centre has been opened in Frinstead House in Notting Hill.

PA

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