'Would woman who died in Hampstead fire be alive if Belsize Fire Station still open?'
PUBLISHED: 18:21 21 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:28 22 November 2017
Questions have been asked whether the tragic death of a woman in a fire in Hampstead this morning could have been prevented if Belsize Fire Station was still open.
The council owned property in Daleham Gardens, which caught fire at 2am this morning is less than a mile away from the former Belsize Park fire station, in Lancaster Grove, which closed amid huge local protest in 2014.
Jessica Learmond Criqui, who campaigned to keep the station open, said: “This is a tragedy. The time response to fires is critical and while I make no criticism of the fire fighters who came from other areas to fight this fire, had the Belsize fire station still been open round the corner the response would have been so much quicker and may have prevented this death.
“The ill-considered decisions about the closure of fire stations in our communities is now being felt and the responsibility for this death must be laid firmly at the door of those who made such decisions.”
The station was shut as part of former London Mayor Boris Johnson’s drive to save £29million.
Fire crews were called to the flat just before 2am this morning. Eight fire engines and 60 fire fighters tackled the blaze. However a woman who was rescued later died.
Police have not yet confirmed her identity.
Around 20 residents were forced to flee the building as the blaze spread, according to the London Fire Brigade, and eight are now being housed in temporary hotel accommodation.
However Tom George, London Fire Brigade’s Director of Operations, defended the response time of the fire crews. He said: “The first two fire engines arrived at the scene in under five minutes, within our target response times of six minutes for an appliance to arrive at an incident.
“The cause of this fire is not yet known and is being investigated.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the woman who sadly died in this fire.”
At the time of the closure over three years ago, Belsize ward was projected to be the hardest hit, with the average waiting time nearly doubling from four minutes 37 seconds to seven minutes 59 seconds.
The flat where the fire took place is owned by Camden Council. They have placed eight residents from the block in temporary hotel accommodation.
A spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of this fatality.
“Council officers are on site and are offering assistance, Eight residents have been placed in temporary hotel accommodation.
“Everybody else is spending time with family or friends.”
Daleham Gardens Road is also closed, as is Akenside Road at the junction with Daleham Gardens.
A Camden Council spokesman added: “We will be cooperating with the London Fire Brigade going forward with their investigations.”
See here for eyewitness reports of the blaze.