Hackney fire: Residents flee as huge blaze breaks out at block of flats with 100 firefighters battling flames

Residents were forced to flee their homes as huge flames tore through the roof of a block of flats in Hackney.

Around 100 firefighters and 15 fire engines were called to a fire on the Pembury Estate on Dalston Lane just after 5.20pm on Wednesday.

Terrified residents scrambled to warn their neighbours of the blaze as the fire quickly spread across the roof of the four-storey building.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) confirmed that one person had to be treated for smoke inhalation at the scene by London Ambulance Service crews and around 50 residents had been moved to a nearby church.

An eyewitness told how she was sitting with a friend nearby when she saw flames several metres high burst out of a fourth-floor flat.

The 39-year-old, Nicola, who quickly alerted the fire brigade, told the Standard: “All of the roof was on fire. It spread along the roof.

“Residents were banging to get their neighbours out. Loads of people were running out and shouting. I saw at least 20 people come out and go back in.

“I don’t think the people inside realised how high the flames were.”

Lanre Opunsins, who lives in a basement flat at the property, ran inside to warn his mother after seeing smoke outside their home.

The Nigerian national explained he saw flames spreading from “the last flat on the top floor” above his home.

Large crowds watched on as the building on Dalston Lane was on fire (Jacob Jarvis)
Large crowds watched on as the building on Dalston Lane was on fire (Jacob Jarvis)

He said: “We came outside and one or two people were still inside. An elderly woman and another woman were in the building. It was just those two. The firefighters were there in less than 10 minutes.”

Florence Opunsins, who has lived in the building for 30 years, added: “I was in bed and my son, he told me there was smoke outside. The fire was so much.”

Another resident in the block, who did not want to be named, told the Standard he ran from the block with his wife and grandson.

He said: “I was inside and the fire was upstairs. Somebody told us to come out. Everybody ran.”

Large crowds watched as firefighters used two 32-metre ladders to spray parts of the roof as the fire calmed down.

 (Abe Ince)
(Abe Ince)

A 21-year-old Hackney resident who watched the fire for 90 minutes told the Standard the smoke became so thick at one point she couldn’t see over the road.

The fire produced significant amounts of smoke and people in the area were advised by the LFB to keep windows and doors closed.

She said: “The kids saw it when they were out playing and then people went into the building getting everyone out.

“There was one woman who was distraught because she couldn’t tell if her cats were okay.”

The fire destroyed the roof of the building destroyed, while part of two maisonette flats on the second and third floors were also damaged, said LFB .

The London Fire Brigade has launched an investigation into the cause of the fire and the blaze was brought under control by 7.25pm.

Firefighters remained at the scene throughout Wednesday evening to make sure the fire was fully extinguished.

Crews from Homerton, Stoke Newington, Bethnal Green, Walthamstow and surrounding fire stations were sent to the scene.