As investigation gets underway over timber-frame fire insurance industry said it has been raising concerns over MMC since 2009

Worcester Park fire Metropolitan Thames Valley

Source: London Fire Brigade

The UK insurance industry said it had no plans to cut back its cover across the construction sector after yet another blaze destroyed a timber-built housing block.

The fire which ripped through a four-storey block yesterday in Worcester Park, south west London, left little remaining of the timber-framed and timber-clad building, which is owned by Metropolitan Thames Valley housing association.

The blaze was the latest to hit a building featuring timber material, following a major fire which destroyed a number of homes in Barking in June.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said: “Any fire to high rise buildings raises concerns, and the results from investigations into previous fires have heightened those.”

He said it was too early to assess the impact of the Worcester Park fire and would await the results of the investigation.

Meanwhile the insurance industry was “not looking for ways to avoid providing cover”, he said. 

“The industry has been raising concerns around modern methods of construction (MMC) since 2009 and will be looking at the causes of this particular fire,” he added.

The ABI wanted to ensure that the impact of MMC products “have been fully considered and that Building Regulations are able to modernise in line with the new products in the sector”.

The association had responded to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s consultation on MMC earlier this year, calling for a “publicly-accessible database providing information on building construction, including the materials used, methods of construction and relevant standards/certification”.

Fire experts called for tighter regulations on timber-clad buildings in the wake of the Barking blaze in east London in June.

A statement on the Worcester Park fire from the London Fire Brigade said around 125 firefighters were called to the blaze at a flat in Sherbrooke Way, where they found the ground, first, second and third floors of the building and the roof alight (pictured).

“This was a challenging fire involving all floors of a four-storey building. Firefighters worked hard to bring the blaze under control.”

Firefighters remained on the scene all day yesterday and the cause of the fire was under investigation, it added. There were no reported injuries.

The development where the fire took place was completed in 2010 and featured 645 mixed tenure homes. It was built by St James, an arm of Berkeley Homes.

In a statement Metropolitan Thames Valley said: “Since the fire at Worcester Park in the early hours of 9 September, we have been on site providing assistance to the emergency services and all affected residents.

“Our primary concern is to ensure that residents have the support they need over the days and weeks ahead. We are ensuring that all residents whose homes have been damaged in the fire have a place to stay.

“While the cause of the fire is being investigated, we are putting put in place arrangements to ensure that all of our residents living in neighbouring blocks feel safe in their homes. As a safety precaution we have put in place a 24-hour patrol at the buildings which we manage.”

Ruth Domeby, leader of Sutton council, which covers Worcester Park, said: “Council officers were at the scene from the early hours of this morning and remain on site. We coordinated efforts to ensure everybody had somewhere safe to stay and I want to thank those who offered support throughout the night.

“We’ll continue to support the emergency services however we can, as well as anybody who needs our help.”