§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will cause an investigation to be made into the two-day fire at the Canning Town Flour Mill of Rank Hovis 3W McDougall during the Christmas period; how many troops were involved in fighting this fire; what is the estimated loss: and why after two days the fire was not brought under control.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
I have inquired into the circumstances surrounding this fire. I understand that the spread of fire had been controlled six hours after the call was received and that subsequently no further fire-fighting assistance was requested, apart from normal reliefs. Some 500 Service men, including reliefs, were involved over a period of four days. The building was one of a complex of similar buildings, and fire-fighting was directed to containing the fire to the building of origin and preventing its spread to closely adjacent property. Fire Service officers who attended considered that the Service men did all that was possible in the circumstances. Although the spread of the fire had been controlled after six hours, in a high-risk area of this type it is necessary to maintain a fire-fighting presence for some time afterwards as a precautionary measure. I regret that I am unable to provide an estimate of the cost of the fire damage.