(If you were in but did not evacuate / did not hear the alarm, please see this post as well: http://connaughthall.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/did-you-not-hear-fire-alarm.html).
There was a real fire inside the third-floor ladies' bathroom. The fire brigade attended and made the area safe within about an hour and a quarter, so that by 3:30 everyone was allowed back into their rooms. We did have some rooms available to move residents into if their own rooms (on the third and fourth floors) were too smoky to spend the night in.
The evacuation at 2 am was calm and efficient. Everyone was very patient, waiting until the fire brigade allowed us back inside. I want to thank everyone who was here - staff but even more so, residents - for the way you conducted yourselves during the emergency.
I can confirm that nobody was injured last night.
There is significant damage to the affected bathroom, which will require a complete refurbishment. The electrics were also damaged but we were fortunately able to isolate the bathroom circuit without losing power to anybody's bedrooms.
Now we need to work out exactly what happened. The fire brigade believe there are suspicious circumstances around how the fire started - that this was either a deliberately started fire, or at the very least, that someone was doing something they shouldn't have been doing in the bathroom that could have led to an accidental fire.
If you know anything about how the fire started last night, please come and talk to me in confidence. If you think you might have done something that could have accidentally caused this fire, please come and speak with me urgently, before this becomes a full criminal (police) and internal (disciplinary) investigation.
I will be in my office on the ground floor today (Wednesday):
- 3:00 to 3:30 pm
- 7:30 to 8:00 pm
Or feedback to a senior member if you don't feel you can approach me directly.
We do already have a number of leads to follow-up, and we are being assisted by the Metropolitan Police and the London Fire Brigade Fire Investigation Unit. So any more detail to flesh out those little bones of information will be welcomed, even if you are unsure whether or not what you saw or heard was significant.
I also will take this opportunity to remind everyone of the correct action to take if you suspect there is a fire. At least four people were talking about a lot of smoke coming from the bathroom before a senior member went to investigate and set off the alarm.
If ever you suspect there is a fire in Hall, please break the glass on a red fire alarm point to start the evacuation. Every minute that a fire continues to burn without us getting people out of the building places people in greater danger from smoke and fire.