Chalcots Estate fire evokes 'horrible' memories

A view of the fire from Dorney block's 11th floor

A view of the fire from Dorney's 11th floor - Credit: Jean-Paul Savelli

A fire on the Chalcots Estate in the early hours of Monday brought back “horrible” memories of the blocks' evacuation nearly four years ago, a resident said.  

Around 50 people were instructed to leave the Dorney high-rise block at 3am after a blaze in a flat on the first floor.

There were no reports of injuries, London Fire Brigade said, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.  

In June 2017, a week after the Grenfell Tower fire claimed killed 72 people, more than 700 flats in the council-run Swiss Cottage estate were emptied over fears for residents’ safety.  

Its five blocks were clad with the same combustible material as Grenfell. This cladding has since been removed – following residents’ anger – as part of ongoing fire safety works at the estate.

Of Monday’s late-night fire, Jean-Paul Savelli, 59, told the Ham&High: “It was exactly the same time as they evacuated the tower four years ago. So that was a bit worrying.  

“It brought back all the memories of the evacuation at 3am, it was horrible."  

Jean-Paul Savelli saw the fire below from his 11th floor flat

Jean-Paul Savelli saw the fire below from his 11th floor flat - Credit: Jean-Paul Savelli

Jean-Paul, who saw firefighters tackle the blaze from his 11th floor flat, said he only realised there was a fire when he went to get a glass of water and heard someone shouting outside.  

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He said the fire alarm didn’t go off, which left him worried.  

“There was no notification for residents at all,” he said.  

“For all the people living above [the first floor] I think they woke up today with a surprise or even some of them still not knowing what happened.” 

Recalling the incident, Jean-Paul added: “I put some clothes on and I went downstairs.  

“There were water hoses all around the building. There was a lot of smoke coming out the windows of the flats but it was all over quite quickly.”  

A spokesperson for London Fire Brigade said: “We were called at 2.46am and the fire was under control by 3.51am.  

“Five fire engines and around 35 firefighters from Kentish Town, Euston, Paddington and Soho fire stations attended the scene.” 

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “On Monday the London Fire brigade attended a small fire at a flat in Dorney – the fire was contained within the flat and thankfully no-one was hurt.

“We are committed to ensuring that all five Chalcots towers have an A1 fire rated façade and significant work has been undertaken to make sure all flats across the Chalcots Estate have 60-minute fire-rated doors and fire stopping which slow the spread of fire.

“We are looking at the claim that the smoke detector within the flat did not operate. We encourage residents to regularly check their smoke detectors by pressing the ‘test button’ and to let us know if there are faults.”