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Residents ‘shocked there was no alarm’ after flat fire on Grenfell anniversary

A fire on the 12th floor of a 20-storey tower block in Elmira Street, Lewisham (Yusif Ali/PA)

Residents of a London block of flats were alerted to a fire in their building a year on from the Grenfell Tower disaster by screaming onlookers when there was no alarm.

Alix Mabon, 25, praised the bravery of three teenagers who drew her attention to the blaze in the 20-storey tower block before running up the stairs knocking on doors.

She said: “The first thought that came into my head was, ‘Oh my God, it’s Grenfell. We’re going to be the next Grenfell’.”

Around 150 people were evacuated from Roma Corte, in Lewisham, as around 58 firefighters arrived at the scene, along with police and ambulance staff, after they were called at around 4.15am on Thursday.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said a sprinkler system “suppressed” the fire, which was contained and extinguished in a flat on the 13th floor. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Residents praised the response of the emergency services, but said they were worried by the lack of an alarm.

Christoph Mayr, 32, said: “We’re on the top floor and woke up because there was shouting outside, so went out on the balcony, and people in the building opposite were screaming, ‘fire, fire’.

“We didn’t see anything, but they started waving and pointing and shouted, ‘you, it’s in your block, get out of the building’.

“We started running down the stairs and banged on doors as we were going down.”

The artist manager, who has lived in the building for around three months, said there was smoke on one of the floors.

“Everyone was pretty shocked there was no alarms,” he said.

“It got more real when we were in the staircase and it was pretty warm.”

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He said he did not want to compare the fire to the Grenfell blaze that killed 72 people, but asked how, in the aftermath of the tragedy, there could be a high-rise building without working fire alarms.

Another resident, Caleb Parker, 40, who lives on the 10th floor, said: “I was sleeping and someone banged on the door and I got up and didn’t know what it was.

“I heard someone else banging on the door saying, ‘fire, get out’.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect and when I saw the fire I thought it could be really bad.”

Civil servant Ms Mabon, who owns a flat on the fourth floor of Roma Corte, was one of the first people out of the building.

“I just heard people screaming and shouting and thought it was an argument on the street, but it just got louder and louder,” she said.

“When I came out three teenagers were with the concierge shouting, ‘fire, fire, get out’.

Ms Mabon said there was no official advice to evacuate and wants a full building inspection and investigation.

“I did think about staying, but obviously Grenfell was in the back of my mind, so I thought I have got to get out,” she said.

“I had no idea where the fire was. It could have been right next door.”

A spokesman for Barratt Residential Asset Management, the firm that manages the building, said: “A fire occurred in a single apartment at the Roma Corte building early this morning, it was extinguished safely and quickly without any injuries.

“Full fire safety procedures in the building were followed successfully and we would like to thank the London Fire Brigade who responded swiftly.

“All residents have now returned to the building and we are conducting an investigation.”

He added: “Heat and smoke detectors, and sprinklers are present in all apartments.”