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Fierce hospital fire could have been started deliberately

PUBLISHED: 10:53 31 July 2008 | UPDATED: 15:16 07 September 2010

Fire at University College hospital

Fire at University College hospital

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

By Robyn Rosen HEAVILY pregnant women and cancer patients were affected by a fierce fire which could have destroyed two hospital wings. More than 100 firefighters rushed to tackle the blaze, which had swept through the basement of University College Londo

By Robyn Rosen

HEAVILY pregnant women and cancer patients were affected by a fierce fire which could have destroyed two hospital wings.

More than 100 firefighters rushed to tackle the blaze, which had swept through the basement of University College London Hospital building in Euston at 2am last Friday.

An automatic fire alarm raised the alert in an underground tunnel connecting the Rosenheim Building cancer unit, and the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson neonatal unit, between Grafton Way and Huntley Street.

No-one was hurt in the fire but women due to give birth were turned away throughout Friday and forced to give birth in other hospitals. Cancer patients due to receive treatment were transferred to other units on Friday. Services were back to normal by Monday.

A policespokesman said: "The fire is believed to have started in a basement storeroom. Police and the London Fire Brigade are treating it as suspicious."

Twenty fire engines sped to the scene from stations around London including Euston, Soho, Paddington, Clerkenwell, Islington, Holloway, Whitechapel, Kingsland and Shoreditch.

It took four hours to control the underground blaze and surrounding roads were closed throughout Friday. The Rosenheim Building is only used during daytime hours for outpatients, and security staff were the only people inside at the time.

Security worker Francis Boateng said: "It was chaotic. People were coming to work in the morning and they weren't allowed into the building."

Firefighter and station manager Sian Griffiths arrived at the scene at 3.30am. She said: "The fire was very complicated because it was down many stairs, there was lots of smoke clogging up the tunnel, visibility was nil and the heat was incredible.

"This was a tough job but we were able to bring it under control very quickly and the team did incredibly well. We have saved not just this unit but the whole hospital."

A hospital spokesman said: "As a precaution on Friday we did not admit patients to the maternity ward but by Saturday we were able to admit women in labour to the ward. We are supporting the police during their investigation."

Anyone with information is asked to call Camden Police on 020-7404 1212 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

editorial@hamhigh.co.uk

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