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West Hampstead fire: community spirit shines as neighbours lend helping hand

Outpouring of support is "West Hampstead in a nutshell"

26 July, 2018 — By William McLennan

Flames destroyed much of building’s roof (Photo: Angelica Malin)

Neighbours have rallied round to support people affected by a fire that tore through the top of mansion block in West Hampstead this morning.

Offers of assistance have come from people living nearby to the fire-damaged Welbeck Mansions in Inglewood Road, while businesses opened their doors through the night.

More than 100 firefighters were called to tackle the blaze, which at its height could be seen across north London. Flames broke out at about 1am and was brought under control at 5am.

Around 50 people fled the building, but the London Ambulance Service have confirmed that none required hospital treatment.

Angelica Malin, who lives opposite, posted on Twitter: “If anyone affected by the fire in West Hampstead needs somewhere to sleep + be today, my flat is yours.”

She told the New Journal: “I woke up at about 1:30am. There was a huge fire at that point. It was all through the roof and it was really aggressive.”

Photos of Welbeck Mansions shared by Twitter user @Matt4Lis, a neighbour

She said that a “firefighter on a crane with a hose” had doused the flames from above. “It just would not stop. Every time he got close to it being quelled, it would start up again.”

She saw people who had been forced out of their homes on the street, she said, adding: “We thought what do those people do now? They’re probably feeling really lost and I just wanted to help.”

The Black Lion pub in West End Lane provided shelter for those affected by the blaze.

David’s Deli in West End Lane opened late into the night providing tea and coffee for neighbours.

Nearby West End Lane Books have offered the use of their bathroom and kitchen to neighbours.

Danny Van Emden said the display of community spirit was “West Hampstead in a nutshell”.

“I’ve lived in west hampstead for 24 years and worked here for eight years, people actively want there to be a heart in their area. They don’t want to live in a dormitory suburb. That does mean that people are there for one another.”

Tulip Siddiq, the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said: “The incident once again underlined the community spirit that binds the people of West Hampstead. I want to pay special tribute to the countless neighbours and businesses, especially the Black Lion pub, who were on hand to offer support and comfort to those affected in the dark of the night.”

She said that “brave firefighters” had “yet again shown enormous professionalism in the face of a perilously dangerous situation”.

“The fire caused extensive damage and I am hugely relieved that nobody was hospitalised,” she said.

LFB Station Manager Claiton Murray said: “The fire is believed to have started in a flat on the fourth floor. The flat was severely damaged by fire and a large part of the roof was also destroyed. In the early stages the fire was very visible and could be seen for miles around.

“Due to concerns that the roof could collapse inward firefighters evacuated residents from the top floor. In addition fire crews assisted two people from the first floor and a number of other residents self evacuated from lower floors. Around 50 residents used a local public house as a rest centre.

“The London Ambulance Service have confirmed that no one was taken to hospital as a result of this incident. Firefighters have carried out salvage operations to save where possible residents possessions from water damage.”

The cause of the blaze is under investigation.


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