Man arrested on suspicion of arson at Invicta House and security patrols stepped up

Crews at the scene of one of the fires Photo Samuel Eales

Officers investigating a suspicious fire at Invicta House in Margate have made an arrest.

Kent Police was made aware of a fire on the second floor stairwell of the Millmead Road towerblock at around 8.30pm on Sunday 1 April.

A 38-year-old man from Margate was arrested on suspicion of arson on Tuesday, April 3 in connection with the incident.

He has been released pending further investigation.

Police are continuing to appeal for anyone with information to come forward and say officers are looking at the possibility of a link to two other recent fires at the block.

Inspector Lara Connor from the Community Safety Unit said: “We are aware there have been reports of other fires at the property recently and at the moment we are keeping an open mind as to whether they are linked or not.

“While we continue our enquiries and review CCTV opportunities we would ask residents to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to us immediately.

“If you can help, please phone us on 01843 222289 quoting 01-1102. Alternatively call Kent Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.”

Photo Reece Chess

East Kent Housing, which manages the block, has also increased security patrols at the building.

A spokesman said: “Residents safety is a top priority for EKH and the council and we will continue to work to ensure our residents feel secure.  EKH staff worked throughout the night and the next day to make the property safe and reassure residents.

“All fire doors and equipment operated correctly during the fire and it was contained to the stairwell.  There are no broken fire doors, and the main doors operate correctly unless they are deliberately wedged open.  There is working CCTV in the building and this is connected to the central control room.

“A rear exit appeared to have been damaged to gain access to the building and this has now been secured and we have increased security patrols at this time.

Photo Reece Chess

“Thanet District Council has allocated £800,000 for additional work in Thanet this year to support extra fire prevention measures.  Amongst other things, this money will be spent on upgrading fire detection system and smoke ventilation upgrades, as well as fire door renewals.”

Firefighters were called to the Millmead Road tower block at 8.36pm on April 1, their third call to the site in 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.

Some families were unable to leave the building because the fire blocked their exit.

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

Mum-of-two Claire Horn was in her third floor flat with her partner Reece Chess and their two young children when the fire broke out on Sunday.

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.

Reece said: “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 Louise Masters

Fire crews were also called to two rubbish chutes fires at Invicta House  on March 25 and March 28.

Read here: Fire crews called to Invicta House for third time in a week

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

1 Comment

  1. It would make perfect sense to have sprinkler systems in place, not only in the main concourse but throughout the stairwells also. What with the London Tower Block tragedy a year ago, sadly, it doesn’t look like those in authority have learnt the lessons yet for these tower blocks. Security seems to be acted upon slowly, allowing strangers to enter through unfixed damaged doors, and fire safety measures are still lacking when it is known that water sprinklers could make all the difference in a situation like this. There are no excuses when it comes to peoples lives in your hands, but I guess that is what we have become accustomed to!

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