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Residents ‘fearful’ as fire breaks out at block of flats near Grenfell Tower

Smoke damage: Markland House after a fire at the flats, a short walk from Grenfell Tower PICTURE: PA

A FIRE at a block of flats close to Grenfell Tower had residents fearing a blaze similar to the one that killed 72 people in June 2017.

Around 70 firefighters and 10 engines were sent to a 12th-floor balcony at Markland House in Darfield Way, Notting Hill, west London, this morning.

London Fire Brigade (LFB) said crews were speaking to residents in the building, which is a short walk from Grenfell Tower, to reassure them.

On the scene: Firefighters and onlookers at Markland House PICTURE: PA

Firefighters were called at 11.39am about ‘smoke issuing’ from a building, with 999 control officers taking 27 calls.

Scotland Yard confirmed there were no reports of injuries, while LFB said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Miguel Alves, who survived the Grenfell Tower blaze, was passing the area when he saw fire engines and police.

He said his first concern was whether anyone had been hurt and that memories of what happened on the night of the Grenfell fire ‘came to my mind straight away’.

He said: ‘I feel shocked because it’s only 200 metres or 300 or 400 metres anyway from Grenfell Tower. It’s in the same area. It’s difficult to believe something happened again in the same area.’

Mr Alves was one of the first residents to discover the Grenfell Tower fire, and several neighbours on the 13th floor where he lived were woken by his knocking and fled the building, contrary to fire brigade advice.

Blaze battle: Firefighters aim water up to the fire PICTURE: @DANIELLEBOND_/TWITTER/PA

Markland House resident Samantha Findley, 41, said she smelled what she thought was burning plastic in the tower block and immediately left her 10th-floor flat.

She said: ‘I smelled it. So I thought, “Let me get out, I’m out”. I grabbed my keys, my phone. I’m out. I’m not seeing where it is or anything. I’m out.’

She added: ‘I was concerned. I was very fearful.’

Standing looking at the block and pointing towards Grenfell Tower, she said: ‘That’s Grenfell there, as you can see. That was my first instinct when I smelled smoke. Everyone is thinking of Grenfell.’

Dhin Chittenden said she cried as she ran down the steps from her 11th-floor flat in Markland House.

The 26-year-old receptionist, who has lived in the building with her husband for a month, said she was already fearful about another Grenfell Tower-type tragedy before today’s fire broke out.

She said: ‘I kept thinking about that. If it’s happened somewhere else then it could happen again.’

A maintenance worker at the block knocked on the door of the couple’s flat and told them to leave.

Standing in her slippers, Ms Chittenden said: ‘I just grabbed my phone, my keys and ran downstairs.’

Going in: Fire crews inside the building PICTURE: PA

Ms Chittenden’s husband, Fernando Villanueva, said: ‘When I opened the door [to leave the flat] I saw the smoke coming out of the lift.

‘My wife, she was thinking of Grenfell Tower. She knows what happened there and was very concerned.’

Before the fire was put out, Danielle Bond, who was watching from a nearby office block, claimed it had spread to six floors, telling PA: ‘The fire is spreading upwards. Don’t know what it’s like inside but flames are going up the building on one side.’

LFB said the blaze was under control by 12.55pm but that crews would remain on the scene this afternoon.

Too close to home: The block is just a short distance from Grenfell Tower, pictured in 2017 when it was engulfed by fire, killing 72 people PICTURE: REX

Kim Taylor-Smith, deputy leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, said: ‘The London Fire Brigade were there quickly and look like they have everything under control. Obviously we will need to investigate the causes of the fire, but at the moment I am just thankful that everyone is safe.

‘This community saw the Grenfell tragedy happen two years ago and I am fully aware of the impact that had on individuals.

‘Our officers are on site, with NHS colleagues, and a respite centre has been opened for anyone who needs support. We have water and items for children on site as well.’

The respite centre is in Frinstead House in Notting Hill.