Camden tower block residents in fear after Grenfell blaze

PUBLISHED: 19:34 15 June 2017 | UPDATED: 11:51 16 June 2017

In January 2012 a fire broke out on the  17th floor flat in Taplow block in Adelaide Road, Swiss Cottage. Picture: Lee Massey

In January 2012 a fire broke out on the 17th floor flat in Taplow block in Adelaide Road, Swiss Cottage. Picture: Lee Massey


Neighbours living in high-rise tower blocks in Camden have spoken about their own fears following the Grenfell Tower fire.

The Chalcots estate contains five nearly identical high rise blocks.The Chalcots estate contains five nearly identical high rise blocks.

Residents from the Chalcots Estate, in Swiss Cottage – which has four 22-storey blocks: Taplow, Bray, Burnham and Dorney, with 18-storey Blashford down the road – voiced concerns about what they would do in the same situation.

Filoretta, who lives on the second floor of Dorney, said: “It’s scary, it’s obviously scary.”

She added: “If something major happened here, heaven forbid, I’d jump out of the window if I had to. I do really feel for these people.”

The 33-year-old mother of Ort, seven, and Eliza, six, told how she had spoken to a woman living on the 22nd floor who echoed her own fears.

Chalcots Estate residents' association chair Robert O'Toole says he asked Camden Council to make their advice consistent. Picture: ROBERT O'TOOLEChalcots Estate residents' association chair Robert O'Toole says he asked Camden Council to make their advice consistent. Picture: ROBERT O'TOOLE

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Filoretta said after expressing her relief at having turned down a flat on the 15th floor before moving into the building a few weeks ago.

She said: “God forbid if I saw the news and I was living on the 15th floor. I would have given up the flat. I would have moved.”

Daniel Araya, who has lived in Taplow for ten years, described how he saw flames coming out of a flat during a fire a few years ago where “two or three” cladding panels were scorched black.

“It’s scary... When I think of how the steps, how narrow they are, how difficult it would be to get out of the building if something happened,” Daniel said.

A second woman wearing a headscarf, who has four children, but wanted to remain anonymous, spoke poor English and seemed very unsure about what to do in the event of a fire.

Head of the Chalcots Estate residents association Robert O’Toole, who worked as a part-time fireman for six years around 30 years ago, said: “A lot of people are scared, but as far as I’m concerned the buildings are safe.

“I’ve been advising people to carry on as normal and am doing my best to put people at ease,” he added.

Robert – who has been the association’s head for almost ten years – explained how he would be reporting his neighbours’ concerns during a meeting with Camden Council tonight before he went on to describe how he felt when he heard the news of Wednesday’s fire.

“I was devastated. It looked like something out of World War Two. I didn’t think that could happen in this day and age.

“I felt what the fire crews went through. They’re dead brave,” he added.

Camden leader Georgia Gould has reassured tenants and leaseholders throughout Camden that extra safety checks will be carried out in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire.

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