Fire crews were still damping down this morning (Monday) at a huge fire in the heart of Barnet’s Jewish community from which five people were rescued and 15 were taken to hospital.
Police say the fire at Golders Green Road is not being treated as terrorist related although the cause is now under investigation.
Scores of people flocked into the street to see the blaze, said to have started in a shop on Princes Parade at around 7.30am. It spread to local flats and burned for more than 12 hours leading to road chaos in the area, including in this morning’s rush hour.
A spokesman for the London Ambulance Service said the Hazardous Area Response Team had been dispatched to the scene.
He said: “We have treated a total of 15 people for smoke inhalation and they have all been taken to local hospitals. Hatzola - the voluntary Jewish ambulance service – has taken a number of patients on our behalf.”
Three of the occupants were rescued by firefighters using a ladder, while two others were led to safety. A total of 25 people were evacuated in total.
A spokesman for Shomrim, the volunteer Jewish police service, said: "Our volunteers were on scene all day assisting and supporting those who were evacuated from the nearby buildings which included many young families. We purchased and distributed over 300 slices of fresh hot pizza, chips and cold drinks to those evacuated and the many emergency services personnel."
One person at the scene said he knew of a couple with a young baby who had returned home to find their flat totally destroyed, but that their landlord had found them emergency accommodation.
Meanwhile, someone put up a post on the North London News Facebook page offering temporary accommodation to those who had lost their homes.
A spokeswoman for electricity supplier UK Power Networks said its engineers worked as quickly as was safely possible to restore power to 260 properties. She said: "Customers had their power restored in stages, with the final properties back on supply at 4:14am. Our support vehicle provided hot food and drinks, temporary power supply, wifi, help and advice to customers whilst their power was being restored."
Amateur photographer Jack Welby, who took pictures at the scene, said he was “amazed” by how far the fire had spread from the shop to the flats at the rear. He said: “I believe it’s one of the biggest fires we’ve had in north west London for many years.”
Firefighers said the blaze was under control by 7.40pm last night
Traffic in the area was said to have been affected this morning due to a police cordon while investigations continue.