Flats residents ‘complained about overcrowding before fatal fire’
esidents living in a block of flats in east London have said they raised concerns about overcrowding before a fatal fire broke out.
Mizanur Rahman, 41, died after the blaze tore through his flat in Maddocks House on Cornwall Street in Shadwell on Sunday, March 5.
Around 15 people had evacuated the flat before emergency services arrived, the London Fire Brigade said.
The BBC reports that several residents had previously complained to the authorities that the flat was overcrowded.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, one resident said 18 people had been sleeping in the flat the night the fire broke out.
“We were all sleeping, someone called me and said get up, get up,” he said. “We saw very black smoke… too much smoke, we [couldn’t] see.”
The man said he was only staying in the flat because he could not find anything else, adding: “Accommodation is very difficult. I am, every day, trying to find a room. I’ve been trying for six or seven months.”
The landlord denies receiving any complaints. He told the BBC he was renting the flat to three people and was unaware 18 people were living in it until the night the fire broke out.
Tower Hamlets Council said it had acted upon previous complaints about overcrowding using the powers available to the authority.
The exact cause of the fire is still being investigated but it is believed to have been sparked by a lithium-ion battery for an e-bike.
In a statement, a council spokesperson said it was working with the Met and London Fire Brigade on investigations into the cause of the fire, “and into the living conditions of the flat”.
They added: “We are supporting those who have been affected with a weekly allowance and signposting to advice, and have provided emergency hotel accommodation which we have now extended for a further week.”