Early Sunday morning I received a call from our emergency team telling me about the fire at Garth House (Sheltered Housing) in Cricklewood and that the elderly residents of the building had been safely rescued and moved to an emergency rest centre we had set up. I went to the centre to make a brief visit (not wishing to get under their feet) just to see how these things work and to see if the systems we practice work when the time comes to put them into action. As expected the residents were upset at having had to leave their belongings (including for many essential medication) and cherished possessions, but the rest centre team were doing an amazing job, people were being fed and provided with hot drinks as expected. Emergency contacts for residents were being contacted (and there was a steady flow of relatives coming to pick up their elderly mothers/fathers) and a doctor was on site, checking people out and making provision to replace medications.

Those residents that couldn't be found alternative accommodation were quickly put into a nearby hotel, together with a member of the emergency team to ensure all was well. On top of that the residents had had to leave their clothes behind and so one of the emergency centre team went across to Brent Cross to buy the bare essentials where necessary. On the way home I swung past Garth House to see the damage from a distance. Apparently 20 pumps from across London had been in attendance which underlined the scale and threat of the blaze. Much of the block is beyond repair and likely to be demolished but what struck me in particular about the damage was that new buildings have the latest fire resistant materials and mechanisms which older buildings don't have. Luckily everyone was safe and unharmed (thanks to the Fire crews) and we will hopefully rehouse everyone in new (and probably better) accommodation.

All in all the emergency services were outstanding and the team work of the Council and Barnet Homes teams was impressive.