The 10-pump fire damaged around half of the hotel's top floor and forced the evacuation of 100 people to a nearby school, according to the fire brigade.
TIMBER YARD ABLAZE
Photos: News Shopper and Kent Online
``Ten fire engines and around 50 firefighters are attending a blaze at a timber yard on Maple Road in Penge. A timber yard and shed, 30 metres by 50 metres is completely alight. There is heavy smoke which is spreading to adjacent shops and homes.''
- London Fire Brigade press release, Feb. 14, 2008
INCIDENT RECALLS MARCHIONESS
Photo: Daily Mail
On Jan. 26, 2008, London firefighters helped prevent the sinking of a pleasure cruiser on the River Thames - an incident that recalled the loss of Marchioness party boat two decades earlier.
According to Press Association, the 288-ton Millennium City ``got into difficulties after holing its bow.'' Firefighters pumped and sealed the vessel's engine room. The 35 passengers were evacuated at Westminster pier. There were no injuries.
Passenger Ajay Jaswal said : "We were all dancing to the YMCA when the boat just lurched to one side. People just fell to the floor, then glasses smashed around us and the lights went out. It was really quite frightening. They told us all to come to the front of the boat as the back end was sinking but we all managed to get off safely in the end."
Just the same, The Daily Mail said the accident rekindled memories of the Aug. 20, 1989 sinking of the pleasure cruiser Marchioness that killed 51 people.
The Marchioness, which was packed with young party-goers, collided with the 260-foot gravel dredger Bowbelle. That ``disco boat'' left Charing Cross pier at 1:25 a.m. for a birthday party for banker Antonio de Vasconcellos, 26.
It passed its sister ship, Hurlingham, as the vessels approached Southwark Bridge, according to The Independent newspaper.
At 1:46 a.m., the passengers and crew aboard the Hurlingham witnessed the collision with the dredger and issued a distress call: ``Wapping Police, Wapping Police, emergency. Pleasure boat is sunk, Cannon Street Railway Bridge, all emergency aid please."
However, the Woolwich marine radio station, which received the distress call, misheard the location as Battersea Bridge -- in the opposite direction -- and the police, in turn, sent fire brigade boats, as well as land vehicles, the wrong way. It wasn't until 20 minutes after the collision that the fire brigade received the correct location.
At 2:16 a.m., Station Officer Gleeson of the Southwark fire station radioed the following situation report to the control room, according to the Fire Brigade's chronology: ``Machioness sunk, believed downstream of Blackfrairs Bridge with unknown number of people in river and Met Police searching river between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges.''
The Independent said: ``No one was found alive after the first 30 minutes. Only one body was recovered that night by the fire brigade. No others were found until the following day when the wreck was raised east of Southwark Bridge: there were 24 bodies found in different sections of the boat. Over the next few days the remaining 26 bodies were gradually recovered along the river, the last being Mr de Vasconcellos himself.''
In August 1991, a report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said ``the failure of lookouts on both ships was the immediate cause of the tragedy,'' the BBC said. In 1995, an inquest jury returned a verdict of "unlawful killing" but the Crown Prosecution Service concluded there was insufficient evidence.
_____On Jan. 10, 2008, flames ripped through a training tower at the former Barbican fire station and winds blew embers towards other buildings, the Islington Gazette reported. Six engines and 30 firefighters attended the incident.
Clerkenwell fire station watch manager Peter Newton said: "There is scaffolding erected around the old drill tower which is about four to five storeys high. The fire started at the top. There are timber boards on each level and sheets on the outside of it so it was going quite well and the strong wind was spreading it. A lot of burning embers were flying off so we put jets on the surrounding buildings to protect them."
RESCUE AT BUILDING COLLAPSE
On Jan. 8, 2008, the London Fire Brigade’s Urban Search and Rescue teams freed a builder from a house that had partially collapsed in Purley, South London. The roof and the upper floor caved in, trapping the builder under a steel beam.
Borough Commander Dave Whiting said: “This was a difficult, hazardous, but ultimately highly successful rescue, which took several hours and demonstrated what a valuable addition the USAR teams have proven to be. Throughout, our urban search and rescue teams worked closely with the London Ambulance Service, the Helicopter Emergency Response Service and the Metropolitan Police. The co-ordinated response was a testament to the close working relationship of all the emergency services.”
Since being formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the USAR teams – which specialise in the location and rescue of casualties trapped in confined spaces - have been deployed to a number of incidents, including a crane collapse in Battersea and Croydon, a building collapse in Commercial Road, Whitechapel, a tornado in Kensal Green and a trapped construction worker in Westminster.
On Feb. 27, 2008, the London Fire Brigade received just a handful of telephone calls when an earthquake rocked eastern England though a tremor was felt in the brigade's control room in Greenwich, southeast London, the BBC reported.
None of the calls to the brigade required the attendance of London's firefighters as ``the epicentre of the 5.2 magnitude quake was near Market Rasen in Lincolnshire'' - 125 miles north of London, according to the BBC. Nearer communities, however, reported damage - including toppled chimneys.