Barking fire: Cladding was not fire retardant, developer reveals

PUBLISHED: 18:39 10 June 2019 | UPDATED: 18:48 10 June 2019

Firefighters tackling the blaze in Barking. Picture: London Fire Brigade

Firefighters tackling the blaze in Barking. Picture: London Fire Brigade

London Fire Brigade

The cladding on a block of flats where 20 homes were destroyed in a blaze was not fire retardant, it has been revealed.

Samuel Garside House in De Pass Gardens, Barking Riverside, before the blaze that destroyed 20 flats. Picture: Google street view.Samuel Garside House in De Pass Gardens, Barking Riverside, before the blaze that destroyed 20 flats. Picture: Google street view.

During a meeting at the Thames View Community Centre, developer Bellway Homes' regional chairman Ian Gorst was asked by one of the residents whether the cladding on Samuel Garside House, in De Pass Gardens, Barking Riverside, was fire retardant.

He said: "The cladding is not fire retardant."

Mr Gorst clarified: "Every building needs to be built and constructed in accordance with building regulations.

"In terms of non-combustible materials, the requirements comes in above 18 metres and the building itself is 13.75.

Firefighters at the scene. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA WireFirefighters at the scene. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

"There is no legal requirement to build out of non-combustible materials."

He added: "The building is not clad in timber. It is built out of brick and block but what you have is a steel balcony structure and across that you have a decorative feature which is a cedar cladding."

The building has around 80 flats, divided into blocks A-D. It is believed that the two blocks with the worst damage from yesterday's fire - including 20 homes destroyed and another 10 damaged - are C and D.

Mr Gorst told the group of residents who were assembled this afternoon: "We're as shocked as you are to see the extent the fire took hold on the exterior of the building.

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"The efforts at the moment are trying to get the building in a position where people can move back in.

"In addition to that we've also commissioned and are undertaking a survey of the whole development to determine the extent of cladding, where it is, where it's used, and make some judgements and recommendations as to whether it is appropriate and whether it needs to be removed.

"That work started first thing this morning and we're hoping for some conclusions later this week."

The meeting also heard from the London Fire Brigade's Pat Goldstein, who provided an update on the investigation.

"We've been working throughout the day with fire investigation which still is ongoing," he said.

"There's still a little bit of work to be done tonight regarding fire risk assessments but we're really hopeful that there are a couple of blocks where people will be able to go back in tonight.

"We also are hopeful that some of those that need access to vehicles we'll be able to support you doing so.

"We've got a nominated officer at the cordon who's been facilitiating getting important medical supplies for people. We don't want people going without essentials."

A 24 hour waking watch will be installed at Samuel Garside House once residents have moved back in.

Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell praised the community's response to the fire, telling the Post: "I'm really proud of the way that residents around the borough and beyond have come with donations, it's incredible to see the generosity of people.

"We made sure that everyone was somewhere warm last night and we're doing the same tonight."

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