A union has slammed the “criminal complacency” that it says led to a cladding blaze that damaged much of a block of flats and took more than 100 firefighters to put out.

The Fire Brigades Union said the blaze in Elm Road, Wembley, on Tuesday (January 29) “could have resulted in tragedy”.

Nearly 125 firefighters were called at 4.42pm and it took until 10pm to bring it under control.

The building and five adjoining blocks were evacuated. No injuries werer reported, but half of the exterior of the building and all of its roof was damaged.

The London Fire Brigade says initial reports show cladding "was involved", though the cause is not known.

Times Series: The fire in Elm Road. Credit: Em LouThe fire in Elm Road. Credit: Em Lou

In response, Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said: "Firefighters have once again been called to cladding fire which could have resulted in tragedy.

“The Fire Brigades Union warned of the risks of flammable cladding many years before the terrible Grenfell Tower fire. Decades of deregulation have created unnecessary risks to residents and firefighters, and put homes and lives at risk.

“Government ministers and building companies have been criminally complacent. We will continue to demand justice for the victims of this situation, and urgent action to ensure that buildings are safe.”

Octavia Housing, the housing association in charge of the property, said there was a plan in place to work with developers and remove cladding.

Times Series: The fire in Elm RoadThe fire in Elm Road

This comes after Brent North MP Barry Gardiner slammed the association for “sitting on its hands” after he repeatedly raised concerns.

The Brent & Kilburn Times has seen copies of documents dating back to April 2023 in which Mr Gardiner and Octavia have discussed the potential of the building being a fire hazard.

Mr Gardiner said: “We’ve been working to try and get that block sorted for over a year.”

“There has been an inability to resolve these issues for a very long period of time. I don’t know yet why these fires have started, but the point is it should not have gotten as out of control as it did if this were not an apartment block that had cladding similar to the Grenfell cladding. And they’ve known about that for three years.

“Yet all of that time, they have not been able to take the appropriate action to get it off that building and make sure that residents were safe.

“They’ve been saying for months that they were going to do it but they haven’t done it.”

Times Series: The fire in Elm Road. Credit: Em LouThe fire in Elm Road. Credit: Em Lou

“It’s an appalling delegation of their duty, they have an obligation to residents to take action to remediate this and keep residents faith, clearly that has failed.”

Mr Gardiner is the presenter for a 40-minute documentary called Leasehold, which follows leaseholders unable to sell or move their apartments since the Grenfell fire.

When Octavia Housing was asked for a response to the Fire Brigade Union’s comments, a spokesperson gave a statement similar to one previously issued, saying: “The safety of our residents is our priority. Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the fire at Petworth Court and we’re glad to hear no injuries have been reported.

“We will support the fire service as they investigate the cause of the fire and continue to support residents who have been affected.”

In a previous published article, a spokesperson said: “Petworth Court has a fire risk assessment, which has been shared with the London Fire Brigade, who we have been working with since last August to manage the building.

“The building has some external cladding in its construction, and we are working with the developer and our insurer to get this removed. There is a plan in place to address this which includes on-going negotiations with the developer and our insurer as part of an arbitration process.

“Ensuring residents are safe in our homes is our primary concern and therefore completing these works is a priority.”