Scores of residents evacuated from London tower block as firefighters tackle blaze

·5 min read

Watch: More than 100 people evacuated from fire in south-east London

About 120 people have been evacuated from a block of flats in south-east London after a fire broke out.

Smoke was seen from the top of the 19-storey tower block at St Mark's Square in Bromley on Sunday.

No injuries have been reported following the blaze, which is still being attended by firefighters.

It was tackled by 15 fire engines and about 100 firefighters, London Fire Brigade said.

Half of a five-room flat on the 15th floor was alight and part of the roof was also on fire. Firefighters were called at 11.58am and are still at the scene. They used a 64m turntable ladder to tackle the fire. The cause of the fire is not known.

Station Commander Colin Digby said: “Crews are making steady progress. This is going to be a protracted incident and we expect our crews to be on scene for several hours to come.”

Firefighters tackling a blaze at a 17-storey block of flats in St Mark's Square in Bromley, south-east London. Picture date: Sunday July 3, 2022.
Firefighters tackling a blaze at a block of flats in St Mark's Square in Bromley, south-east London, on Sunday. (PA)
Firefighters tackling a blaze at a 17-storey block of flats in St Mark's Square in Bromley, south-east London. Picture date: Sunday July 3, 2022.
Smoke at the top of a building in Bromley, south-east London, on Sunday. (PA)

The brigade’s 999 control centre received 88 calls alerting them to the blaze.

Fire crews came from Bromley, Beckenham, Addington, Woodside, Lewisham, Forest Hill, Sidcup and Croydon and surrounding fire stations.

Footage showed flames and black smoke coming from one part of the building's slanted roof, while further clips showed firefighters on the roof with the flames apparently extinguished.

Josh Gill, 29, a Co-op team leader from Bromley, said: “I literally live on the doorstep.

“Some people were upset and crying whilst others were shocked and confused as to what was going on. The fire brigade are still here and you can see people who live in the flats evacuated in the church.”

“It is scary to see this right on the doorstep as I have a family.”

Brent Bautista, 17, who lives with his parents and younger brother on the 11th floor, said: “I reckon it was around 12 something that the fire alarm started to go off on the ground floor and everyone evacuated.

“However, apparently the fire alarm on the 11th floor did not go off at all so everyone was literally getting evacuated but we were just standing there not knowing what to do, so we just had to come down by ourselves anyway.”

He said a sprinkler system seemed to activate on the floor above, pouring water down to his flat.

He added: “I just remember we were cooking there and the sprinklers just went on and the balcony was drenched so we didn’t know what to do at that point so we gathered everyone and just started walking downstairs because obviously the lifts weren’t working at that point because of the fire.”

A man living near the tower said he saw flames burning “ferociously” on the building.

Rowland Leslie, 63, said: “I was just walking down to come to Bromley and I don’t think it had started not long before that because the fire engines were just coming.

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“Where there is the slant of the building there are balconies and flames were burning ferociously at the start.

“I have been in Bromley for over an hour and where I was it looked like the fire had been put out but in the last 20 minutes it looks like it must have started up again.”

A large cordon remained in place around the scene of the fire on Sunday afternoon, with residents being diverted on longer routes to get to their homes.

Firefighters tackling a blaze at a 17-storey block of flats in St Mark's Square in Bromley, south-east London. Picture date: Sunday July 3, 2022.
Firefighters point water at smoke at the top of a block of flats in London on Sunday. (PA)
Firefighters tackling a blaze at a 17-storey block of flats in St Mark's Square in Bromley, south-east London. Picture date: Sunday July 3, 2022.
Smoke billows from a building in St Mark's Square in Bromley, south-east London. (PA)
Firefighters tackling a blaze at a 17-storey block of flats in St Mark's Square in Bromley, south-east London. Picture date: Sunday July 3, 2022.
Firefighters use a ladder to tackle a blaze at a 19-storey block of flats in south-east London. (PA)

Guests at a nearby Premier Inn were evacuated and told they are likely to have to wait several hours to get back inside.

One guest, Jerome Smith, 22, said: “I was asleep, woke up, came out, my friend messaged me saying there was a fire and they evacuated everyone.

“My car is parked in the car park, so we’re just waiting to get in. They’re saying it’s going to be a three-hour wait.”

Raquell Viamonte, 22, who works at a restaurant in St Mark’s Square, said it was “terrifying” when the fire broke out.

Firefighters tackling a blaze at a 17-storey block of flats in St Mark's Square in Bromley, south-east London. Picture date: Sunday July 3, 2022.
Firefighters at the scene of a blaze in south-east London on Sunday. (PA)

She said: “It was quite stressful. I had to deal with quite a lot of customers, kick them out and refund their orders.

“The fire alarm started ringing and by the time I walked out there were firefighters running around everywhere. It was terrifying.”

Residents of St Mark’s Square have been evacuated to the nearby St Mark’s Church where they are being provided with coffee, tea and snacks while they wait for news.

Bromley Council said it is providing support for residents.

On Sunday evening, the council said it had been informed by LFB that residents were allowed back into the building up to the 12th floor.

The council said management agents are on site and are bringing in contractors to get rid of the water needed to put out the fire.

Staff at the cinema on the site are also being allowed back in but it will not reopen on Sunday evening, the council added.