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Forest Gate Police Station fire: Fears for evidence as roof 'completely destroyed' by huge blaze

An investigation is under way after the roof of Forest Gate Police Station was “completely destroyed” by a huge fire.Around 175 firefighters in 30 fire engines spent seven hours battling the blaze at the east London building in Romford Road, Forest Gate.

Around 60 people had been evacuated from the station before firefighters arrived, and nobody is believed to have been injured.

The Metropolitan Police is expected to give an update on damage that might have been caused to ongoing criminal cases, amid fears for evidence stored there.Some essential police property was moved to a place of safety.

Superintendent Dan Card, speaking outside the smoking red brick police station, said: “The fire has now been contained and the cause of the fire is not being treated as suspicious atthis stage.

“I’d like to reassure the residents of Newham that our policing response in the area has not been affected and we are able to continue to do our job of keeping the people of Newham and London safe.”

London Fire Brigade (LFB) is now investigating the fire, and says its probe may be lengthy “due to the scale and nature of the incident”.

The roof of the police station, which is where the fire was located, “was completely destroyed”, said LFB.

The brigade was called to the scene shortly after 4.15pm, and had the fire under control by around 11.10pm.

Firefighters tackling the huge blaze at Forest Gate Police Station (LFB)
Firefighters tackling the huge blaze at Forest Gate Police Station (LFB)

Dramatic photos showed an inferno engulfing the roof of the red brick building, while huge plumes of black smoke issued high into the air.

Firefighters with breathing apparatus were seen going into the building, and were pictured tackling the huge flames from above the roof using turntable ladders.

Assistant Commissioner Pat Goulbourne, the Brigade's Incident Commander, said: "This was a challenging incident for firefighters as the fire was located in the roof of the police station.

“Crews made extensive use of our 32m and 64m ladders to attack the fire from above, and our drone team was deployed to provided us with a view of the scene as we responded."

Firefighters at the scene (LFB)
Firefighters at the scene (LFB)

"Throughout the incident a concern for our crews was the possibility of the fire spreading to adjacent properties.

“Thanks to their hard work we were able to prevent that from occurring, and the fire was limited to the police station.

“Firefighters also conducted operations to ensure that essential police property within the building remained protected from the blaze and moved to a place of safety.

"Our specialist Fire Investigators will now begin to carry out their investigation into the cause of the fire. Due to the scale and nature of the incident, this is may be a protracted investigation."

Local people were told to keep windows and doors shut while the fire raged, while a number of nearby roads were also closed.

Fire service experts are expected to trawl through the building when it is made safe in the hunt for clues as to the cause of the blaze.

Early reports on Wednesday night suggested the fire was not being treated as arson at that stage.

Locals gathered around the cordons as smoke continued to billow from the building.

A witness at the scene told the Standard: “The whole building looks ruined. It’s a big deal, the police will have lost files and who knows if there is evidence for cases that has perished in the fire. Also the police have no base now so they will have to be sent elsewhere I guess.”

Meanwhile one local wrote on X as the fire raged on Wednesday: “From this angle, it seems like the roof of Forest Gate Police Station is gonna collapse anytime soon.

“As Police helicopters monitor the situation from above, brave Firefighters fight the ongoing blaze at Forest Gate Police Station.

“Fire Brigade have put up huge Spotlights in order to help fight the blaze”.

Commander Kyle Gordon, from Newham Police, said policing "continues as normal in Forest Gate".

“I am fully aware of the impact this will have on our officers and staff who usually work out of Forest Gate,” he said in a statement released on X.

“We have been speaking with them and making sure they have the support they require, both now and in the coming days.

“Despite the impact of this fire, our ability to deliver a policing service remains unaffected. Our local teams will continue to serve their communities in and around Newham in the usual way and keep them safe.”

He also thanked LFB and police officers who responded to the incident on Wednesday.