December 5 2013 Latest news:
Sara Odeen-Isbister, Senior Reporter
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Fire investigators suspect a house engulfed in flames today contained a cannabis factory and that the blaze may have been started deliberately.
The news comes as residents spoke of their panic as they fled their homes after seeing the flames and hearing windows explode.
Firefighters spent over two hours tackling the massive fire at the terraced house in Stamford Road, Dagenham from around 11.30am.
The roof was destroyed by the blaze, while the first and ground floor were badly damaged. A section of the roof of a neighbouring house was also affected.
London Fire Brigade officers investigating the scene say there are indications that the house contained a cannabis factory and that the cause of the blaze could be arson.
No people were in the home at the time, but a dog was found in the back garden afterwards. She was led away by firefighters to be handed to the RSPCA and was visibly shaking.
Five nearby homes were evacuated by crews. Eve Cox, who lives metres away, told of the frightening moment she realised the building was on fire: “I heard the windows blow,” she said.
“It was so loud, I thought it was an explosion. Then I saw the flames coming out of the roof and the smoke. People started screaming and panicking. It was like something out of a film.”
Mel Devonshire, who lives in the neighbouring property which received some damage, added: “I smelled smoke, so went outside and saw flames coming from the bathroom window of the house next door.
“I ran inside, grabbed my dog Ralph, ran outside and called 999. I was really scared.”
Mel, 53, whose husband and grown-up children were at work when the fire started, said she feared her and her partner’s loft bedroom had been damaged.
London fire brigade group manager, Steve Brown, who is based Redbridge Fire Station, said: “Crews worked hard to bring this fire under control. The situation was worsened by the hot weather and the nature of the fire.
“Vigilant neighbours raised the alarm and assisted the fire brigade.”