‘Smoke billowing everywhere’: First responder tells of Aylesbury fire evacuation

Katherine Johnston (12 November, 2018)

'I was running with babies in my arms, shouting through letter boxes to get people out'

26543Wendover Block, on the Aylesbury Estate

A man, who helped evacuate babies and children during last week’s Aylesbury Estate fire, has told of the dramatic moment smoke started billowing up to the twelfth floor of the building.

Dylan Dawson, aged 24, from Peckham was visiting a cousin who lives in Wendover block on Wednesday, November 7, when the fire began and smoke rapidly filled the building.

He told the News he was on the twelfth floor with another family member when the blaze started: “We could smell smoke, like someone was having a bonfire.

“At first it wasn’t that bad, it almost looked like quite a lot of people were outside smoking but then within ten minutes smoke was everywhere and we were banging on doors and had got down to the fourth floor before seeing any emergency response.

“I was running with babies in my arms, shouting through letter boxes to get people out.

“There was a pregnant woman and I had to kick her door down to help get her and her young child out.

“I can’t stop thinking about it. There was just smoke billowing everywhere.”

Dylan says it took around an hour to get the affected part of the block evacuated.

Although no one was seriously injured, the fire brigade confirmed three children suffering from smoke inhalation were taken to hospital as a precaution.

Dylan says the fire seemed to start in what is meant to be a locked-up car park, and was not far from a boiler room. “Luckily, this time, the Alyesbury Estate never has any heating,” he said.

Speaking to the News the day after, he says he was left shaken up with a bad headache and had been coughing up black phlegm,  but otherwise was unharmed.

“It looks like I ate a thousand blackjacks”, he told the News.

Initial reports that the fire started in a bin room have now been contradicted by the fire brigade, which says a car was on fire in a car park off Thurlow Street.

As yet there is no news on the investigation into the cause and whether it was an accident – or deliberate.

The fire is the second in the estate, and specifically in Wendover, since September.

The condemned estate still has many families and vulnerable people living in its remaining blocks that have yet to be demolished, including vulnerable people in temporary accommodation.

Six fire engines and forty firefighters tackled the blaze, with the fire brigade confirming it took nineteen calls after the fire caused ‘lots of visible smoke’.

The fire was under control by 6.48pm, around two hours after firefighters were first called at 4.59pm.


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