CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Woman dies in Belsize Park blaze near shut down fire station

Victim named locally as Magdalena Fink, from Germany

21 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot, William McLennan

Firefighters at the scene this morning (Tuesday)

SCORES of firefighters spent three hours battling to control flames that destroyed several homes and claimed the life of one young woman.

Around 20 people were able to flee their homes uninjured after a neighbour in Daleham Gardens, Hampstead, raised the alarm shortly before 2am this morning.

A woman believed to be in her mid-30s, named locally as Magdalena Fink, from Germany, was pulled from the burning building by firefighters, but was pronounced dead at the scene. It is believed she was overcome by smoke.

Fire teams continue to damp down the building

Tanya Ley, who lived in the basement flat, was one of the first to notice the flames.

“I heard the fire alarm, opened the front door and saw loads of the flames in the window. I got the kids out the house, buzzed everyone else up and just screamed my head off and got everyone out the block. I was screaming: ‘Get out the block. Fire’.”

Speaking of Ms Fink, she said: “I knew of her, but she had only been there a couple of months. It’s so sad. She was a really young lady.”

Mr Ley and her neighbours spent around three hours on the street as the homes were destroyed by flames.

“It was still burning when we left at 4am, because it still started”, she said

She said she had “no clue” if any of her possessions, adding: “We’ve got no shoes, no clothes, we’ve got nothing. They’ve said we’re not allowed to go nowhere near it at the moment.”

“It’s not just me, it’s the whole block. There’s a lady upstairs who has got a baby, she’s got nothing.”

Belsize Fire Station  was closed in 2014 despite opposition from residents, politicians and the New Journal 

Around 60 fire fighters and eight engines spent three hours attempting to control flames that destroyed the roof of the building.

The brigade were continuing to douse the building in water at 4pm today, more than 14 hours after the blaze began.

The scene of the fire is less than a mile, by road, from Belsize fire station, which was closed by cuts in 2014, despite a public backlash and a legal challenge by Camden Council.

The New Journal has campaigned against cuts to the fire service with our Thin Red Line investigation.

The London Fire Brigade said that the first two fire engines arrived at the “in under five minutes” – below their target time of six minutes.

 

The scene in Daleham Gardens

Surveyors have begun to assess the structural safety of the block, which is owned by Camden Council. It is believed the victim, who had moved in around two months before, was renting from a leaseholder, via an agent.

The fire brigade said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Camden Council are providing temporary accommodation for some of the evacuated families, while others are staying with friends or relatives.

A council spokesman said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of this fatality.

“Council officers are on site and are offering assistance, including arranging alternative temporary accommodation for residents who request this.

“We will be cooperating with the London Fire Brigade going forward with their investigations.”

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