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An Alarming Story. - helen-louise
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An Alarming Story.
Alarming phone call of the day: my mum phoned at 7:43am to tell me that the block of flats she lives in was busy burning down, but I shouldn't worry because everyone had got out (!).

Apparently the fire started about 3am in a top floor flat. Their smoke alarm went off, but none of the alarms in the building are wired together - something I said was an accident waiting to happen when I lived there. As no one was in upstairs, the fire continued for several more hours, until the downstairs neighbours smelled smoke and woke up at 6am. They rang my dad, who went outside to look and found the fire was so bad the roof was about to collapse. He told my mum to ring the fire brigade while he went round pressing all the neighbours' doorbells to wake them up (!). Many of them didn't answer because they thought it was a prank caller (!!). Yes, some of these people are lucky to be alive. The fire was bad enough for the fire brigade to close the road for several hours, and Richard said the top floor flat where the fire started is completely gutted.

It's quite frankly crazy to build timber-framed flats with no communal fire alarm system - let alone blocks with only one usable fire escape. It's taken this fire for people to realise their windows are too small to escape through, another thing I said when we lived there. By 2pm the loss adjuster from the building's insurance, the council planning officer, and reporters from both local newspapers had all been round, so I'm hopeful some good will come out of it. Kingston is nothing but new-build blocks of flats (if you want a house, you have to buy a Victorian terrace or semi), and I wonder how many of them actually have a sensible fire system. If we can get this reported, perhaps the council will stop approving plans for blocks of flats with inadequate safety measures, and it may even save some lives.

I do feel sorry for the people who went away on holiday and will return to find their home is destroyed, though :/

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purplerabbits From: purplerabbits Date: 13th May 2007 10:20 (UTC) (Link)
Yikes! Flats here do have separate alamrs, when they have them at all, but then the infrastructure is made of stone, and the only time there was a fire in a stair I lived in the fire brigade told us to stay put, because smoke from trying to get out was more of a danger than collapse...
johnckirk From: johnckirk Date: 13th May 2007 14:08 (UTC) (Link)
Urk, that's rather scary - I'm glad everyone got out ok.

As for the doorbell, I can sympathise with the neighbours who were suspicious - I get lots of drunk people walking past my flat on Friday/Saturday nights on their way back from nightclubs, and a few of them think it's funny to ring a doorbell and run away. (Fortunately I have a video entryphone, so I don't have to go downstairs to see whether anyone's there.) At 6am I'd expect it to be a real caller, but at 3am I'd be more suspicious.
From: artremis Date: 14th May 2007 13:00 (UTC) (Link)
eeek! i'm glad everyone is ok
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