Residents' anger at alarm system after fleeing fire in high-rise block

A fire that broke out in an east London apartment block left residents feeling shocked and angry after it emerged there is no general fire alarm in the building.

Around 100 people fled their homes in the middle of Sunday night at the David Lee Point building in Stratford, as flames engulfed and destroyed a 17th floor flat.

Fifty-eight firefighters attended the scene at Leather Gardens, Stratford, after first receiving reports of a blaze at 1:20am.

By 2:50am the fire had been brought under control and no-one was reported injured.

The man whose apartment was destroyed was said to be sitting in tears outside the burning building.

On Monday, the side of the 21-story block was charred and ashen debris, including window glass, was scattered across the car park below. 

Resident King Tweneboah, a 39-year-old father of two, said he was woken up by a neighbour phoning him at 1:45am.

"I just grabbed my children and partner and ran down the stairs. My daughter said: 'Daddy are we going to die?'

"I told her everything was going to be ok, and thankfully we made it out."

Mr Tweneboah, who lives on the top floor of the building, said he was concerned about the lack of alarms sounding.

"There was no general alarm. We didn't hear any noise until we got further down the building. That really concerns me."

Another resident said he had previously complained about the alarm system in the building.

"There was a small fire a few years ago, and I told the concierge that there has to be an alarm on every floor," said Richard Addae, 63, who lives on the ninth floor. "Last night, I was woken up by people shouting 'fire' and I could smell burning as I went down the stairs."

Residents on the fouirth, 10th, 13th and 15th floors also complained they were not woken up by a fire alarm.

One man, who called himself Mr Roman, said he would be complaining to the council.

Inspectors from Newham Council, who manage the building, were on site on Monday.

A council statement said: "Newham Council has carried out extensive checks on all its tall blocks (including David Lee Point) since the Grenfell fire last year and has implemented additional safety measures wherever necessary.

"In line with other tower blocks across London, in the event of a fire, David Lee Point has a 'stay put' policy in place. This policy is in line with the advice of London Fire Brigade as there are safety measures in place such as fire lobbies, fire doors and protected escape routes which will ensure a fire occurring within an individual flat will be contained.

"These measures worked last night ensuring the fire did not spread further than the property it started in.

"As there is a 'stay put' policy, there are no fire alarms in communal areas."

The cause of the fire is not yet known and is under investigation.

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