CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

New Journal video may hold vital clue for investigators probing cause of fatal blaze

Video made by survivor may be only evidence of moment fire began

24 November, 2017 — By William McLennan

The fire’s intensity may impede the investigation  

FOOTAGE published by the New Journal is being reviewed by investigators who are attempting to piece together what caused a fire that claimed a young woman’s life and destroyed several homes.

The London Fire Brigade contacted this newspaper yesterday to ask for help after a video (below) of the start of the fire at Daleham Gardens, Hampstead, was made public.

Survivors of the blaze, in which 35-year-old Magdalena Fink lost her life, have questioned whether poor maintenance of the council block had contributed to the cause, or spread, of flames in the early hours of Tuesday.

Megan Rousseau, who lived opposite Ms Fink on the first floor, made the video as she fled her home. She believes this is the only photographic evidence of the start of the fire and is now assisting the brigade with their investigation.

Their job is complicated by the extent of the damage, with the roof almost entirely destroyed by flames.

Ms Rousseau said it looked like the fire started in a ground-floor cupboard in a communal area under the stairs.

She said: “We would like to know whether there is a negligence issue there.

“We did not hear fire alarms go off on our floor and that is where somebody died. Those questions need to be asked.”

She added: “The building was really badly managed. The whole thing is in disrepair.”

Oliver Cooper, Conservative councillor for Hampstead Town, said: “These reports are deeply worrying for everyone in Camden.” He said the council must “check all smoke and fire alarms”.

The tragedy was a reminder that Camden must focus on fire safety not only on high-rise estates, but also on the large number of council street properties, he said.

“Camden has one of the largest portfolios of street-front properties in the country, and they can’t just be an afterthought.

“As street properties are often unique in layout and design, they each need their own solutions and systems in place for their maintenance and safety. Tragedies like this can only be prevented by Camden taking proper care of every property, whether big or small, and whether on Camden’s estates or off them.”

Councillor Meric Apak, Labour’s cabinet member for better homes, said: “Our priority at this time is to assist all residents affected by the fire. We’re making practical support, including family support workers, available to anyone who needs it.

“We’ve provided temporary accommodation to all residents who have requested it.

“We will be fully cooperating with police and London Fire Brigade going forward with their investigations.”

A Met police spokeswoman said the fire was not being treated as suspicious.

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