Mother refuses to return family to Dagenham council flat after boiler she warned was faulty catches fire

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 November 2018

Lauren Skinner with children Amelia, 8 and Lydia, 4 by the faulty boiler which started a fire in her flat.

Lauren Skinner with children Amelia, 8 and Lydia, 4 by the faulty boiler which started a fire in her flat.


A single mum is unable to return to her 12th-floor council flat after a boiler she warned was faulty caught fire.

Highview House. Picture: KEN MEARSHighview House. Picture: KEN MEARS

Lauren Skinner woke up at about 2.15am last Wednesday with her smoke alarm going off at her home in Highview House, Hatch Grove, Dagenham.

When she rushed out of her bedroom she saw smoke coming out of a hallway cupboard.

“I thought I was still in a dream. My flat was smoked out. As I turned around there were flames coming out. It was terrifying,” Lauren said.

After hearing the noise, a neighbour grabbed Lauren’s two children, Amelia, eight, and four-year-old Lydia, taking them to safety.

“I dragged them out of bed. They had no idea what was happening,” Lauren said.

The 25-year-old managed to put out the blaze before five fire engines and 35 firefighters from Dagenham, Ilford, Wennington and Hainault arrived at 2.24am.

“What would have happened if my smoke alarm wasn’t working or we weren’t at home? People could have lost their lives. We’re lucky to still be here,” Lauren said.

She said the council had sent someone to fix it but she wanted it replaced after saying she reported it was faulty before the fire.

Now she is refusing to move back into the flat and doesn’t want to take up the council’s offer of a space in a hostel.

“My kids are frightened. We don’t feel safe,” she told the Post.

The family is now staying with Lauren’s mum.

“I refuse to go back. We don’t want to stay there, especially in a high rise,” Lauren said.

A Barking and Dagenham Council spokesman said: “We offered Ms Skinner and the children an emergency temporary placement in one of our hostels because there was no hot water in the flat, which she refused.

“The smoke damage is confined to the cupboard.

“Once the hot water is restored the flat will be habitable and she will be able to move back in with her children.”

He added Ms Skinner contacted the council’s repairs service after the fire but a plumber could not get in because of the fire service investigation.

“We are unable to comment further until we receive the report,” he said.

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