‘It’s like a warzone’: Extent of damage to Ballards Road homes on show following blaze which destroyed 14 houses

The fire in Dagenham was one of many that broke out on July 19, the warmest UK day on record

The fire in Dagenham was one of many that broke out on July 19, the warmest UK day on record - Credit: Ben Lynch

Dagenham residents have described the aftermath of a devastating blaze as “like a warzone” as they try and come to terms with the destruction left behind.  

Fifteen fire engines and around 100 firefighters were sent to tackle a fire on Ballards Road on July 19, on what was the UK’s warmest recorded day

In total, 14 homes were completely destroyed, while others have external damage that will need repairing, according to Barking and Dagenham Council. 

Around eight hectares of parkland was also damaged and 25 vehicles were destroyed. 

A total of 14 homes were completely destroyed in the blaze, according to Barking and Dagenham Council

A total of 14 homes were completely destroyed in the blaze - Credit: Ben Lynch

As of yesterday (July 21), cordons remain in place in the area, as the London Fire Brigade continues to ensure any fire hotspots are kept under control. 

One local resident, Svetlana Kamulya, 43, told this newspaper she could see the smoke from her nearby home, but initially assumed it was one of the smaller, more contained fires that occasionally break out in The Leys park.

However, “a lot of people came out, so we thought something was going on”. 

“It was quite scary," she added. “I thought it could go that way [towards her home], so we could be in danger too. 

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“We saw it in flames. It was really scary.” 

Svetlana said a couple of her daughter's friends at school had to be evacuated, though she was unsure where to. 

The remnants of a bike destroyed in the blaze

The remnants of a bike destroyed in the blaze - Credit: Ben Lynch

Sandra Hussey, 75, lives just over the park from Ballards Road, and described the impact as “just devastating”. 

She and her daughter regularly walk through the park, but had not done so in the last few days due to the fire.  

“It could be different if the wind had blown a different way," she said. “It’s like a warzone.” 

She added: “These things don’t happen here. But then again, why not here?” 

Following the fire, Barking and Dagenham Council set up a fundraiser to support affected residents

Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said: “We are saddened by the events that took place on Tuesday and our heart goes out to everyone affected. We’re so grateful that no one was injured but some residents have lost everything including their homes, possessions and pets.

“As a council, we are supporting the residents affected with their next steps as they pick up the pieces.

“I would like to thank members of the London Fire Brigade, other emergency services and council staff for their support in very difficult circumstances and special thanks to Steve Thompson and staff from Dagenham and Redbridge FC for their support to provide the families affected with shelter for the night."

Cllr Rodwell added while the cause of the fire had yet to be confirmed, the record-breaking temperatures had led to a number of fires across London, including in neighbouring borough Havering.

“While we await the outcome of findings from the London Fire Brigade’s investigation, we will be continuing to support our residents with their needs including accommodation, emotional support and accessing emergency finances.”

Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, who attended the sites both in Dagenham and nearby Wennington, said he was “horrified” by what he saw. 

He thanked the way businesses, such as Asda Dagenham and in Whalebone Lane, the B&Q on Roneo Corner and the local community came forward to support those affected, and paid tribute to the emergency services. 

“We have to learn from these devastating fires that have wrought havoc across the constituency of Dagenham and Rainham this week and I want to say to anyone who denies climate change, come here and look. We have to urgently put in place measures to arrest climate change,” he said. 

Mr Cruddas added that his office is working with the council to aid local residents who lost their homes. 

The London Fire Brigade said July 19 was its busiest day since World War Two, as the soaring temperatures resulted in 1,146 incidents across the capital.