Dagenham fire deaths were preventable, inquest told

The aftermath of the fire at Bradwell Avenue in Dagenham. Picture: PAUL BENNETT

The aftermath of the fire at Bradwell Avenue in Dagenham. Picture: PAUL BENNETT - Credit: Archant

An inquest into the deaths of two women who died in a fire has heard that they could have survived if fire doors had been fitted.

Dorina Zangari and Mihaela Lazar lost their lives after they became trapped in the blaze in Bradwell Avenue, Dagenham, on January 25 last year.

Recording their deaths as accidental, coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe, said: “This tragic fire claimed the lives of two young women.

“I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the deceased.”

The fire broke out at around 7am after clothes placed near a halogen heater caught fire in a downstairs bedroom of the two floor maisonette.

During Tuesday’s inquest, the court heard that tenants fled after trying to put out the flames, but they quickly spread after the bedroom door was left open.

But Romanian nationals, Dorina, 31, and Mihaela, 25, a married hotel housekeeper who was on her day off, were trapped by smoke. Dorina’s partner managed to escape. Mihaela’s husband, a lorry driver, had already left for work.

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Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard that there were no working smoke alarms or fire doors even though 11 people lived at the property.

The owner had registered the flat as a rented property for a single household in March 2015 but Barking and Dagenham Council was not told that four families, including two children who fled the blaze, and a single man had later moved in.

A council inspection before the licence was granted found two working smoke alarms at that time.

Under the borough’s landlord licensing scheme homes in multiple occupation have to be registered.

In court it was revealed that the council took the owner and managing agents to court for not declaring the HMO but lost the case after the landlord denied knowing about the increase in tenants.

HMOs should be fitted with fire doors.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) investigator, Matthew Cullen, said: “If there had been a fire door, unless it was bound open, it would have closed and the conditions would have remained survivable.”

The LFB investigation found there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the cause of the blaze.

A post mortem concluded that both women died from smoke inhalation.