Mar 22 2013 By Ian Proctor
SIX people were "lucky to escape with their lives" after a blaze broke out in the car wash underneath their "death trap" of an Edgware home.
The fire happened at Star Hand Car Wash and Valeting Centre in Park Way, Edgware, on Wednesday at 9.55pm when one car caught alight and the flames spread to two further vehicles before engulfing the whole garage and the ceiling.
The six people, including two young children, fled the flat immediately above but fire investigators later discovered it had no smoke alarms, no unblocked escape route and nothing separating the business below from the flat's escape stairs, meaning the fire could have easily spread upstairs.
It was deemed so unsafe that the London Fire Brigade (LFB) slapped the home with an Prohibition Notice to stop anyone sleeping there.
LFB’s Deputy Commissioner, Rita Dexter, said: "The accommodation was a potential deathtrap and the people living there were lucky not to have been killed by the fire. "Had it broken out later when they were asleep we may well have been faced with several fatalities.“There were barely any safety measures in place and it’s just sheer fortune that one of the residents noticed smoke coming through the floor and called 999.“It’s tragic that people are being forced to live in such dangerous conditions by landlords who choose to ignore fire safety laws. "If we find that people are putting lives at risk by blatantly ignoring them we will have no hesitation in prosecuting .”
More than 20 firefighters, including crews from Harrow and Stanmore Fire Stations, attended the blaze, which was under control within the hour.
LFB said it is now set to take enforcement action against those responsible for the carwash and living quarters constructed above.