London

Worcester Park fire: Four-storey block of flats destroyed

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Media captionWorcester Park resident Darren Nicholson "woke up to the sound of crackling"

A number of families have lost their homes in a huge fire that destroyed a block of flats in south-west London.

Flames quickly spread to all four floors of the building in Sherbrooke Way, Worcester Park, after fire crews were called just before 01:30 BST.

The blaze, which took five hours to get under control, was tackled by 125 firefighters and 20 fire engines.

No injuries were reported but London Fire Brigade (LFB) said crews would remain there throughout the day.

Image copyright London Fire Brigade
Image caption London Fire Brigade said it was a "challenging" blaze to tackle
Image caption A collection has been set up for residents who have lost their homes

Dean Fowler, who lives with his family on the top floor of the building, said he was woken in the night by someone banging on his door.

"I then heard someone screaming 'there's a fire, get out', and I just got my boys and went," he said.

He said he had only been living in the building for three weeks and had lost "everything" in the blaze, but added: "We're alive, we're breathing, that's all that matters."

Image copyright Jack Woods/PA Media
Image caption Lauren Woods and Jack Edwards escaped from the building with their twin daughters

Lauren Woods and Jack Edwards escaped from the top floor with their two six-month-old daughters Mia and Grace.

Louise Anns, Ms Woods' friend and colleague, said the family had been left "devastated" having had to abandon their two cats, while their car was expected to be written off due to flooding in the building's basement.

"Everything they have is in that flat, and it's gone," said Ms Anns, who has set up an online donation page to raise funds to help them.

Another crowdfunding page has been set up for all affected residents by Worcester Park councillor Jenny Batt, who said the "amazing" response from the community meant they had already been donated large amounts of items such as clothing.

Image copyright London Fire Brigade
Image caption All four storeys of the block were ablaze

The building is made up of 23 flats and based in The Hamptons estate, an American-style complex of social and private housing which was built on a former sewage treatment works.

Residents from the block and a nearby building were taken to a community centre and a collection is being organised for the affected families.

One of those, Darren Nicholson, said he woke up to the sound of "crackling" and when he opened the curtains he "saw the flames and got myself and the family out".

He said fire alarms were going off in the community areas but not in his own flat and he believed the blaze began "on the balconies".

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At the scene

Greg McKenzie, BBC Radio London correspondent

Image copyright PA Media

What was once a four-storey building is now just a shell.

You can hear the block falling apart and black and white smoke continues to billow from it.

The closest building, which has also been evacuated, is quite far away so it is not possible that the fire could spread.

However, the thick smoke is going into these houses and covering the entire block.

Residents from other parts of the estate have been bringing bags of clothing and bedding to the community centre to donate to those people who have lost everything.

Image copyright London Fire Brigade
Image caption No injuries were reported
Image caption The building is made up of 23 flats

Fire investigators have begun work to look into "all aspects of the this fire", LFB said.

LFB Group Manager Rick Ogden said fire crews had faced "a well developed and intense fire" which had engulfed all four floors of the building.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The estate is made up of 645 mixed-tenure homes built in a US style beside a nature reserve

Metropolitan Thames Valley, the housing association which manages properties in the block, said it was "supporting emergency services on the ground and our priority is ensuring that residents are safe."

All residents displaced by the fire would "have a place to stay", the housing association said.

In a statement the association added: "While the cause of the fire is being investigated, we are putting put in place arrangements to ensure that all of our residents living in neighbouring blocks feel safe in their homes.

"As a safety precaution we have put in place a 24-hour patrol at the buildings which we manage."

Sutton Council said it had officers on the site "supporting anybody that needs help".

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