Socialist Worker

Fire deaths inquest begins as Boris plans more cuts

Issue No. 2336

Six people including a 20 day old baby were killed as they tried to hide from a tower block fire in 2009, an inquest has heard.

Coroner Frances Kirkham opened an inquest that is expected to last three months into the fire in Southwark, south London.

She said the fire broke out in the bedroom of 65 Lakanal House, on the west side of the block of 98 two-storey maisonettes, and quickly spread.

“The fire brigade was called as soon as the fire began in flat 65,” she said.

“However they were unable to rescue the victims in time. Paramedics attended but they were unable to resuscitate the victims.”

The blaze began when a television caught fire.

Several people described the complicated layout of the smoke-filled tower block as “a maze” that made the evacuation difficult.


Firefighters are expected to tell the inquest that breaches of building regulations hindered rescue efforts as fires spread between flats and floors.

This is something that buildings are designed to withstand.

Last year the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to bring manslaughter charges against Southwark council.

The council had known that the building posed a fire risk for nine years.

Meanwhile Tory mayor of London Boris Johnson plans to close 12 fire stations in the city, remove 18 fire engines and slash around 400 jobs.

Southwark is one of the stations earmarked for closure.

The workers’ FBU union has called a lobby of a Fire Authority meeting on Monday of next week in protest. It begins at 1pm at the London Fire Authority, Union Street, SE1 0LL.

Firefighter strikes could stop the cuts.

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