Camberwell tower block ‘a blast furnace’ during fatal fire, inquest told

18:02 07 February 2013

Forensic officers inspecting the scene of the fire in Lakanal House in Camberwell. File picture: Carl Court/PA Wire

Forensic officers inspecting the scene of the fire in Lakanal House in Camberwell. File picture: Carl Court/PA Wire

A firefighter who helped tackle the Camberwell tower block blaze which killed six people has described the conditions he faced when he comforted a family which had fled out on to their balcony.

Conditions in the cage of the platform were like a “blast furnace”, crew manager Danniel Sharpe told the super inquest into the deaths today.

The fatal blaze broke out at Lakanal House on July 3 2009.

Mr Sharpe told jurors at Lambeth Town Hall that he told another firefighter to direct a jet of water at a fire on the west side of the building.

“I remember debris coming down and igniting,” he said.

“Then I remember a large noise coming from the eastern side - shouts were going up that people might jump.

“We went round there and noticed a gentleman standing precariously on a balcony with what looked like knotted sheets.”

Mr Sharpe was lifted up in the cage with another fire officer to reassure the family on the balcony that help was on the way. They stayed there until they were rescued.

Asked what conditions were like on the platform, he said: “There were high winds, pushing it all over the place. One second it was clear, the next it was thick black smoke, a lot of heat was coming from the 11th floor, it was like a blast furnace up there.”

Asked how he felt when he came down after an hour on the platform, he said: “Exhausted, basically.”

Dayana Francisquini, 26, and her children, six-year-old Thais, and Felipe, three, were killed in the fire.

Helen Udoaka, 34, her three-week-old daughter Michelle and 31-year-old Catherine Hickman also lost their lives. They all lived on the 11th floor.

The hearing was adjourned until 10am tomorrow.

Latest Stories

Leeds University student Mary Brandon before and after the vicious attack - because she asked a man not to grope her [Photograph from Facebook]

A woman has posted these shocking pictures on Facebook after she was brutally beaten by a man at Notting Hill Carnival on Bank Holiday Monday – for telling him not to grab her bottom.

Read more
The woman was attacked as she got the train home from Paddington station (Picture: British Transport Police)

A woman was sexually assaulted after she fell asleep on a train from Paddington to Reading after a night out in London.

Read more
The man was found at an address in Cumberland Street in Pimlico (Picture: Google Streetview)

A man was found with gunshot and stab wounds at a house in Pimlico in the early hours of this morning say police, who are appealing for information.

Read more

Quirky London

Quizzes

I'm only going to say this once: Stand. On. The. Right.

James Bond is Britain’s most famous secret agent, and the capital is its most famous city, so it makes sense that 007 would live and work here when he isn’t gallivanting around the world.

Read more
Can you find the animals hiding in London station names? (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

You may not realise it but there are animals hiding in stations across London? Play our quiz and see if you can you find them:

Read more
Can you guess the Tube station just from the outside? (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

How well do you know your Tube stations? Can you guess these Underground stops from the pictures taken outside them?

Read more