East Kent Housing ‘to look at security’ following three Invicta House fires in one week

Crews at the scene last night (Photo Louise Masters) and internal damage (Photo Reece Chess)

Workers from East Kent Housing have been clearing the burnt out stairwell at Invicta House in Margate following last night’s fire (April 1) – and have told residents night security will be looked at.

Firefighters were called to the Millmead Road tower block at 8.36pm yesterday, their third call to the site in just a week.

Seven fire engines and the height vehicle attended the scene. The blaze was found on the stairwell between the second and third floors. It is understood the cause is being treated as arson although KFRS say the cause is still under investigation.

Councillor Gary Taylor, who was at the scene, said that four people were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation.

Claire and Reece were in their flat with their two young children

Mum-of-two Claire Horn was in her third floor flat with partner Reece Chess and her two young children, aged three and two years, when the fire broke out.

The family were unable to leave their home as the blaze blocked their route out.

They were advised to get in the furthest room away from the fire, shut all doors and put towels up against the doors to block smoke coming in while crews dealt with the incident.

Photo Reece Chess

Residents in the block have raised concerns including the easy access to Invicta House for non-residents and broken fire doors.

Reece, who allowed us to use his photos of the fire aftermath, said: “Over 150 residents were put at risk. This was the single most frightening experience of our lives – the thought that you can’t get your kids out because the fire blocked our only exit. It is unthinkable what could have happened and will surely stick with us for a long time.”

Photo Reece Chess

It is understood East Kent Housing staff who were part of last night’s and today’s clean up have told residents the issue of night security will now be looked at.

Claire said: “They’ve cleaned all the rubble away, made sure nothing was hanging off the walls and wiped down walls and windows the best they can. They said they’re going to carry on with clearing and repairing the block throughout the week. They said about security at night as well. It wouldn’t be all night but could be patrols.”

Photo Reece Chess

Fire safety works are due to be completed at the isle’s six authority-managed tower blocks following risk assessments by Kent Fire and Rescue.

Thanet council budget papers say £675k is required in 2018-19 to carry out the remaining fire safety works identified by the risk assessments.

East Kent Housing says all of the six high rise blocks it manages in Thanet have the following fire-fighting equipment on-site:

  • Dry-Risers, which allow the Fire and Rescue Service to pump water up to the different floors of the building if they need to tackle a fire
  • Fire Detectors
  • Manual call-points on every exit to a stairwell
  • Fire doors
  • Communal area doors
  • Emergency lighting on every floor and every-other landing
  • Emergency Signage

EKH says each site also has a Fire Action Plan

Photo Reece Chess

Fire crews were called to two rubbish chutes fires at Invicta House on March 25 and March 28. Police had been investigating an incident that took place on March 28 but later said it was no longer being deemed as suspicious.

Photo Reece Chess

Last year police issued an appeal for information following a spate of deliberate fires at Trove Court tower block in Ramsgate. The rubbish chute at the building was targeted numerous times during the Summer.

Kent Police and East Kent Housing have been asked for comment on the latest fire.