Fire brigade warning over barbecues on balconies following Barking Riverside blaze

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 August 2019

A fire tore up the side of Samuel Garside House on June 9. Picture: Luke Acton.

A fire tore up the side of Samuel Garside House on June 9. Picture: Luke Acton.

Luke Acton

The London Fire Brigade has highlighted the Barking Riverside fire that destroyed 20 homes as it urges Londoners to take care on their balconies.

It wants people enjoying the summer on their balconies to be careful when putting out cigarettes and to keep their barbecues on the ground.

Across the capital, there were an average of 15 balcony fires per month in the two years from April 2017, according to the LFB.

In that period as a whole, there were 400 balcony fires. Well over half of them were caused by people not getting rid of cigarettes or similar things properly.

Combustible objects being placed too close to a source of heat was the second biggest cause. Barbecues came in third at 5 per cent.

In its appeal, the fire brigade pointed to the June fire in De Pass Gardens, where around 100 firefighters were called to a massive blaze at Samuel Garside House.

Arriving fire crews found timber balconies on fire on all floors of the block of flats.

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The investigation into the fire is ongoing, but the LFB said it has "not ruled out the unsafe disposal of smoking materials or a barbecue being used on a balcony".

Charlie Pugsley, the brigade's deputy assistant commissioner, said: "If you own a balcony with wooden or combustible decking it is vitally important to ensure that lit cigarettes or smoking materials are disposed of carefully.

"You should not have a barbecue on your balcony. There is often not enough space and the flame could be too close to the decking, the building or combustible items and start a fire.

"Fires cause a huge amount of damage and can destroy homes, they could also cost someone their life - it isn't worth the risk.

"We also urge people to think about what they are storing on their balconies.

"We often see balconies with mattresses, electrical appliances or furniture being stored on them and these can all contribute to the spread of a fire, even if the fire started elsewhere."

Part of Samuel Garside House is currently under repair.

The council is conducting a safety assessment of the worst affected sections of the building.

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