Friday 13 blaze reignites resident fears of Grenfell Tower style fire at block

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RESIDENTS living in a high-rise tower block fear they could be victims to a Grenfell Tower style fire.

A blaze at Sarah Robinson House on Friday 13 earlier this month reignited long-running fears among those living in the Portsea block.

The fire started on the seventh floor after clothes were left on an electric hob resulting in people from that level and below being safely evacuated. 

Those living above the fire in the 20-story Queen Street block were able to stay safely in their flats while the fire was put out.

A fire in October 2017 sparked similar fears over safety after a major response from fire crews was needed when an electric hob had been left on in a kitchen. No one was hurt but the incident served to act as a reminder of the dangers in the tower block.

Now residents have expressed their anxiety over pipe corrosion and the mains gas in the 1960s block.

John Drew, who lives on the eighth floor, said residents live in fear at the block, which he describes as ‘similar to Grenfell Tower’.

He said of the recent fire: ‘I was able to stay safely in my flat until the blaze was extinguished. This fire was relatively minor but still gives residents cause for concern. 

‘I have heard from residents that the gas pipes installed for a new central heating system in the majority of the 120 flats are starting to corrode badly after 10 years of hot water running through them. 

‘Some people think the mains gas for cooking that has been in the block for the last 53 years is problematic as pipes buried inside the structure may be corroding.’

But a spokesman for Portsmouth City Council, which owns the block, has now moved to calm fears. ‘The fire incident at Sarah Robinson House last Friday was a result of clothes being left on the active electric hob which caused smouldering,’ he told The News.

‘Thankfully there was no damage to the property and residents were advised on fire safety.

‘The pipework in the building is in an appropriate condition however we have arranged for the repairs team to inspect the pipework for reassurance.’