An MP has slammed a housing association that he says was “repeatedly warned” about a fire risk in a block of flats that was engulfed in flames.

Around 125 firefighters tackled the blaze in Elm Road, Wembley, last night (January 29).

The fire damaged half of the exterior of the building and all of its roof.

The London Fire Brigade says initial reports show cladding "was involved", though the cause is not known.

Residents from the building and five adjoining blocks were evacuated after the fire was reported at 4.42pm. It took until 10pm to bring the fire under control.

Brent & Kilburn Times: The Fire in Elm RoadThe Fire in Elm Road

There were no reports of any injuries.

Brent North MP Barry Gardiner claims he has previously shared his concerns to housing association Octavia Housing about cladding at the building.

He said: said “Our worst fears have happened. The nightmare that residents have been living with has become a reality.”

“Octavia Housing, who manage the block, were repeatedly warned this could happen. Yet they sat on their hands and did nothing.  This will be traumatic for all the residents who live in Elm Road.”

Brent & Kilburn Times: The fire in Elm RoadThe fire in Elm Road

The Brent & Kilburn Times has seen copies of documents dating back to April 2023 in which Mr Gardiner and Octavia have discussed the potential of the building being a fire hazard.

He added that on November 2 last year, after failing to get a response after numerous letters, he called an urgent meeting with chief executive Sandra Skeete.

Mr Gardiner claims that he was told “no” to questions about plans for fire remediation work and cladding removal.

The MP said: “Six years on from Grenfell, three years on from being advised the cladding was unsafe, Octavia has done nothing to remove the cladding or even make any attempt to advise residents trapped in their small flats when the work would commence or who would pay for it.

Octavia responded to me in December and said they were unable to share any information on the fire safety reports on the advice of their solicitors.”

Brent & Kilburn Times: The fire in Elm RoadThe fire in Elm Road

A total of 20 fire engines were called and two 32-metre turntable ladders were used as water towers. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

A spokesperson for Octavia Housing said: “Petworth Court has a fire risk assessment, which has been shared with the London Fire Brigade, who we have been working with since last August to manage the building.

“The building has some external cladding in its construction, and we are working with the developer and our insurer to get this removed. There is a plan in place to address this which includes on-going negotiations with the developer and our insurer as part of an arbitration process.

“Ensuring residents are safe in our homes is our primary concern and therefore completing these works is a priority.”

The spokesperson continued: “Octavia staff have been on site and working with Brent Council’s emergency response team and other agencies to support residents.

“The safety of residents is paramount and the needs of those with vulnerabilities have been prioritised.”

Brent Council offered shelter at St John the Evangelist Church in Crawford Avenue, Wembley, to those who were not allowed to return and Octavia also helped provide overnight hotel accommodation.

The London Fire Brigade says it will remain at the scene in the coming days as investigations continue.

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