Video: Major blaze renews worries after Leeds tower block arson
A major fire in a London tower block which claimed the lives of at least 12 people has renewed the concerns of residents in Leeds flats affected by an arson.
Flames tore up the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington in the early hours of today, leaving people trapped on upper floors.
It has added to the worries of residents in Poplar Mount, Bramley, where several floors were evacuated in the early hours of October 29.
A settee had been deliberately set alight in a communal area, filling nearby flats on the ninth floor with thick smoke. Four people suffered smoke inhalation and a number of homes were smoke damaged, with the communal area needing a total refurbishment.
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Anthony Johnstone, 30, said: “I find it so hard to sleep. I just think I’m going to wake up to a fire. It’s brought it all back to me. I’m scared of sleeping in my own flat now.”
Neighbour Carl Ackroyd, 50, said smoke detectors in individual flats sounded as smoke seeped in, but there were no alarms in the communal areas.
There is no legal requirement for tower blocks to have alarms in those areas, although Leeds City Council said it did provide them if deemed appropriate by risk assessments and was installing them blocks of older people’s accommodation.
Mr Ackroyd was also disappointed at the lack of support from the council after the fire.
“I understand there are cutbacks but come on, we’re all human,” he said. “There’s an incident like that and they didn’t even knock on your door.”
He added that the settee had been in the communal area for several days prior to the fire and even the charred remains were not removed for days.
However, Leeds City Council said staff checks on the evening before the fire did not find any items left out.
A spokesman said regular checks were undertaken at its tower blocks, with items removed as soon as possible.
He also said residents had been visited after the fire to check on their welfare.
The council considers compensation for smoke damage on a ‘case-by-case basis’, but Mr Johnstone said his claim was refused because the council thought it was not liable.
He said he had spent nearly £1,000 on repairs so far, adding: “My walls are all black and they’ve been smoke damaged. I’ve just ripped the carpet up in the hallway because it was stinking.”
Mr Johnstone also said that rubbish had built up in the block’s bin shoot over the last two years, although council workers visited the flats to clear the shoots following enquiries by the YEP yesterday.