At 3am Sunday 5 March 2023 a fire broke out in flat 18 Maddocks House a top floor 2 bedroom flat in the smallest of three blocks on Tarling West Estate on Cornwall Street, Shadwell, London. The London Fire Brigade attended swiftly (the Fire Station is 2 mins down the road on Cable Street). Residents from the estate rushed to the fire to help everybody out of the block as quickly and safely as possible. One resident, Mizanur Rahman was taken by ambulance to an ICU at Whitechapel Hospital, on Thursday night fellow residents learned he had died of his injuries. Five fire engines and around 35 firefighters from Shadwell, Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Dowgate and Dockhead fire stations attended the scene. All other residents of Maddocks House are safe and uninjured.

18 Maddocks House was severely overcrowded and had more than 15 residents staying overnight on the night of the blaze. The Fire Brigade and residents of the flat have since told us that there were 20 beds at a time in the flat, and often as many as 20 residents sleeping at in the flat at any one time, the landlord, a leaseholder appears to have been running the flat as an intensively exploitative B&B.

Other residents of Maddocks House had made complaints about the flat to Tower Hamlets Homes (THH), representatives from the Council and to other agencies, about leaks and other problems resulting from its dangerous overcrowding and poor state of repair for years, since 2019 at least. The Residents Association has for a long time struggled with THH’s poor management of the estate and lack of attention to residents calls for attention to the poor conditions on the estate. The Residents Association is currently preparing a report about the fire summarising this history of complaints, poor repairs and negligence on the part of the Council and its managing agent THH.

On Wednesday 8 March residents held a community meeting and invited residents of the estate, those living in the flat, community organisations London Renters Union and IWGB Couriers, representatives of THH, the Council: Councillors Ana Miah, Harun Miah and Abdul Wahid.

Survivors of the fire have received support and emergency housing from LBTH Council. Residents are working with other community groups to raise funds for survivors of the fire as well as providing direct support. The survivors have lost everything: their phones, money, laptops, clothes, bikes, documents and their home. We urge you to donate to the fundraiser: https://www.LaunchGood.Com/HousefireVictims

Mizanur’s family, who are in Bangladesh have been supported by Eden Care while Mizanur was in intensive care, Eden Care and Muslim Burial Fund will support the family through the next stages. Those wishing to donate to support Mizanur’s family can get in touch with the TRA or the organisations mentioned above.

A vigil has been called in collaboration with Justice for THCH Residents and 18 Maddocks House Fire Support and other community organisations to take place this Sunday 12 March 3-5pm at Altab Ali Park.

A Short Film by Rainbow Collective about the Fire

News Articles covering the fire

https://www.bigissue.com/news/housing/sixteen-people-discovered-living-in-three-room-london-flat-after-fire-breaks-out/

https://www.bigissue.com/news/housing/shadwell-fire-overcrowding-london-maddocks-house/

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/mar/12/residents-warned-tower-hamlets-council-landlord-overcrowded-flat-before-fatal-fire

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2023/mar/14/criminal-investigation-launched-into-fatal-east-london-flat-fire

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2023/mar/15/residents-demand-independent-inquiry-into-councils-role-before-fatal-fire

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-64914885

https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2023/03/criminal-investigation-launched-into-death-following-shadwell-fire/

https://www.mylondon.news/news/east-london-news/shadwell-fire-man-41-killed-26436521

https://www.mylondon.news/news/east-london-news/landlord-flat-man-died-fire-26481667

https://www.mylondon.news/news/east-london-news/east-london-community-comes-together-26490614

https://socialistworker.co.uk/features/tower-hamlets-flat-fire-shows-how-poorest-people-die/

A statement (12/03/23) from 18 Maddocks House Support Group

THE DEATH OF MIZANUR RAHMAN WAS PREVENTABLE – IT MUST NOT HAPPEN AGAIN

The death of Mizanur Rahman was completely and utterly preventable. It was a result of the criminal activity of the landlord that he died, but just as equally due to the negligence of the licencing authority, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, and the housing management organisation, Tower Hamlets Homes, which has just gone back into control of Tower Hamlets Council.

There are seventeen people that have survived the fire, people need to rebuild their lives, students and workers, asylum seekers and tourists, who are all of Bangladeshi origin, and are Spanish nationals, Italian nationals, Bangladeshi nationals and French nationals. They now need to reconstruct their lives. They have organised themselves into support group with others to meet their demands and concentrate support. They demand the following:

1] Rehousing – seventeen people have been made homeless – they need to be given accommodation for their duration of their stay in the United Kingdom

2] Compensation for the family in Bangladesh (2 sons, a wife and a mother) – apart from the family tragically losing their son, they have also lost a key provider and income earner.

3] Investigation of the Landlord, LBTH and THH – there needs to be an investigation into the responsibility of the landlord, Tower Hamlets Council (licence provider and enforcement body) Tower Hamlets Homes (housing authority).

4] Monument to Mizanur Rahman – celebrating his life and those of migrants in Shadwell.

5] Case worker for all 17 survivors for 6 months – each need medium term help and are victims of a system that has failed them – they need help. Many don’t speak good English and can’t navigate the bureaucratic system in the UK, they are subject to racism and they are in shock.

6] Educational, social and psychological support – the seventeen survivors need access to language classes, medical and mental health services, each to varying degrees

These are the demands and needs of the seventeen people that survived the fire. The one person who died needs to be honoured.

FOR MORE INFO AND CONTACT WITH SPOKESPERSON CONTACT:

maddockshousesupp@outlook.com

FUNDRAISER FOR THE SURVIVORS OF THE FIRE

https://www.LaunchGood.Com/HousefireVictims

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A Flyer with the Fundraiser and Statement from the 18 Maddocks House Support Group

A report from the Tarling West Residents Association summarising what residents knew and reported about overcrowding and conditions in 18 Maddocks House before the fire

On Monday 13 March a delegation of residents of Tarling West Estate and survivors of the fire at Maddocks House went with representatives of the Residents Association went to meet Mayor Lutfur Rahman at his surgery at the Whitechapel Ideas Store to present the reports from the Residents Association and statement by the Maddocks House Support Group. The Mayor was very welcoming, giving his condolences, expressing his anger over the conditions which led to the fire and Mizanur’s death, worry that these conditions also existed elsewhere in the borough and his willingness to investigate and tackle these problems.

A letter from the Mayor Lutfur Rahman on the fire at Maddocks House.

At Full Council, 16 March, LBTH passed an emergency motion on Rogue Landlords in response to Mizanur Rahman’s death and the Maddocks House Fire

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