Hundreds of people killed in fires in England last year, new data reveals

·2 min read
Four people died in a fire in Bexleyheath last year. (PA)
Four people died in a fire in Bexleyheath last year. (PA)

Some 280 people died due to fires in 2021 in England, an increase of more than a quarter from 2020 when 220 people were killed.

The figure is the highest recorded in a year since 2017, when 72 people were killed in the Grenfell Tower fire in West London.

The majority of deaths were attributed to fires in people's homes, with 210 fatalities in dwellings.

Five years after Grenfell, the data revealed an alarming number of fires in high-rise blocks of flats.

Some 767 high rise fires were attended by fire and rescue services, resulting in five deaths.

Read More: Shocking moment house explodes into fireball as crews rush to tackle blaze

Four children died in a house fire in Sutton last year. (PA)
Four children died in a house fire in Sutton last year. (PA)

The government continues to face criticism in the wake of Grenfell, with critics claiming not enough has been done to improve living conditions and fire safety in high rise tower blocks.

On Wednesday, housing secretary Michael Gove promised to increase social housing tenants’ rights, and improve how they can hold landlords to account, in response to concerns raised by Grenfell Tower.

Under the changes, the regulator will be able to inspect landlords and intervene when they poorly handle issues such as complaints, while new tenant satisfaction measures will be introduced so tenants can see how their landlord is performing compared to others.

The issue of paying for the removal of unsafe cladding from high rises has stalled the progress of making the changes necessary.

Construction companies, housing associations, landlords, tenants, local authorities and the government have all resisted contributing the billions needed to make the changes.

Read more: Boy, 8, saves family from house fire as man, 24, arrested for 'arson'

The Grenfell Tower fire has forced the government to re-examine fire safety. (Getty)
The Grenfell Tower fire has forced the government to re-examine fire safety. (Getty)

In April the government successfully passed a bill through the Commons and Lords despite fierce resistance capping the amount leaseholders could pay towards fire safety measures at £15,000.

There had been a concerted effort in the Lords to reduce this to £250 but the government saw off the rebellion.

In November 2021, two women and two infants died in a fire in Bexleyheath. All four were rescued from the property by firefighters but died at the scene.

In December of last year, four children died in a house fire in south London.

Sixty firefighters fought the blaze and all the children were successfully removed from the property but they later all died in hospital.

Although the number of deaths has been increasing slightly in recent years the number of non-fatal casualties from fires has been steadily decreasing since 2011.

There was an 8% drop in hospital admissions for fire-related injuries in 2021 and a 7% drop in the number of people who needed first aid.

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