Residents had ‘no idea’ huge fire was tearing through their building’s roof

Flat residents in east London had “absolutely no idea” a fire was tearing through their building’s roof while they were inside as they could not hear an alarm, it has been claimed.

Thick black smoke and flames were seen billowing into the air as around 100 firefighters tackled the blaze which occurred at a seven-storey business centre, which also has flats, in Fairfield Road, Bow, on Friday evening.

Residents say they were told they may not be allowed back into the building until Sunday, after flames ripped through and damaged the roof.

Bow fire
Firefighters tackled the blaze (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A resident, who gave his name as Drew, had been standing at the police cordon for three hours when he told the PA news agency: “I was going to run myself a bath and I came back downstairs and looked out the window and saw loads of smoke then realised ‘oh my God, it’s our building that’s on fire’.

“The flats at the top are two floors, I saw people through the windows as the fire was going on. The fire alarm wasn’t going off, they had absolutely no idea.

“The first thing I did was call the fire service, then I ran downstairs to make sure that the building was evacuated and told the fire warden the flats hadn’t been evacuated.

“It was quite clear the fire was coming from the roof, it wasn’t coming from the flats.

“I ran back upstairs and grabbed my bag then ran down my corridor and banged on the doors shouting ‘fire’.”

Around a dozen residents were stood outside the police cordon, including a man holding a cat in his arms.

Bow fire
Firefighters at the scene in Fairfield Road, Bow (Jonathan Brady/PA)

A man who lives in an adjoining building said: “I was working at my desk on the ground floor and a neighbour knocked on the window.

“I came outside and you could see all the billowing black smoke coming out of the roof.

“You could see big flames as well. It was completely surreal, it actually looked quite serious.

“Then I thought, I know that the top couple of floors are residential.

“The fire engines arrived really soon, it was a pretty sturdy response. Then the heavens opened.”

Firefighters used water towers to tackle the blaze, the cause of which is under investigation.

There have been no reports of injuries.