Daleham Gardens fire: Coroner rebukes council over lack of fire checks which led to death

The fire took place on November 21 in Daleham Gardens, Hampstead

The fire took place on November 21 in Daleham Gardens, Hampstead - Credit: Archant

The senior coroner for Camden has slammed the town hall’s fire checks after a woman died last year. And she is concerned the same thing could happen again if changes aren’t made.

The current site of Daleham Gardens, five months after the fire

The current site of Daleham Gardens, five months after the fire - Credit: Harry Taylor

Mary Hassell’s rebuke came after Magdalena Fink died in a blaze at her council-maintained block of flats in 31, Daleham Gardens, Hampstead last year.

The inquest, held at St Pancras Coroner’s Court last Wednesday, heard the council currently has no staff responsible for checking fire detectors working in council-owned properties.

Ms Fink, also known as Madeline, died on November 21. The paralegal had moved to Britain from Germany in 2006.

The hearing heard the fire had started in a storage cupboard on the ground floor of the building.

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Ms Hassell said: “[Ms Fink] was at home in her first floor flat at approximately 1.50am, when a fire began downstairs.

“By the time she appreciated the gravity of the situation, she was unable to escape.”

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Ms Hassell said there were smoke detector alarms in the communal areas of the property, but they were not loud on the first floor.

She told the hearing it was unclear if they were working. “There was no person designated by the [council] landlord to check them.”

Camden Council owns the block and is responsible for its communal areas.

Ms Hassell issued a narrative verdict, and said Ms Fink died of inhalation of fire fumes and burns.

She has issued a prevention of future deaths notice. Camden Council has until June 18 to respond.

London Fire Brigade is continuing its investigation into the fire’s causes.

A spokesman for Camden Council said: “We continue to review our fire safety arrangements across Camden’s homes as part of our new standard of resident safety, separate to the investigation.

“This includes carrying out enhanced fire risk assessments in council homes, installing new smoke and fire alarms, upgrading fire doors, installing door closers and ensuring fire stopping is in place to prevent the spread of smoke and fire. “

The spokesman added: “We have appointed a director of resident safety who has been working with us since early November to help address actions identified in fire risk assessments and prioritise these actions as appropriate.”

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