Blaze sweeps through Finchley Road squat
Ben McPartland Dozens of firefighters spent three hours battling a blaze that engulfed a Finchley Road squat last night. Two people wearing breathing apparatus had to be led to safety from the boarded up three story house, which had been part of King s Co
Dozens of firefighters spent three hours battling a blaze that engulfed a Finchley Road squat last night.
Two people wearing breathing apparatus had to be led to safety from the boarded up three story house, which had been part of King's College campus.
The fire, which started at around 5pm caused gridlock at the height of rush hour as police had to close Finchley Road to southbound traffic.
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Onlooker Jing Huo was working in an office opposite the boarded up house when the fire broke out.
She said: "I just saw smoke from the top of the house and then a little later fire started coming out of the window. I was just about to call 999 when the first fire engines started arriving along with an ambulance.
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"We saw two being brought out from inside. They sat on the pavement for a while and were then taken into an ambulance."
Sales rep Alex Jarvis was driving past at the same time.
"It was like a warzone, all be it a very small one," he said. "Suddenly there was an overwhelming smell of smoke I could see a thick, dark fumes rising from one of the houses. There were at least three or four emergency vehicles that had just arrived and paramedics preparing stretchers. A few people were exiting the building aided by the emergency service workers."
Around 40 firefighters and 11 fire engines from stations including Belsize and West Hampstead tackled the blaze. It was finally brought under control by 8pm.
The derelict house, which is owned by Barratt homes, had been occupied by squatters in recent months. Around two weeks ago police reportedly raided the house and moved all the occupants out but neighbours said some had returned in recent weeks.
The cause of yesterday's blaze is still under investigation but is not believed to be arson. Much of the roof of the house caved as water was blasted from an overhead crane. Part of the second and third floors were also damaged.