How safe are timber-frame buildings?


Joey Gardiner reports on what experts are saying about the Worcester Park fire, the implications for the building method and how it is regulated

Last week’s blaze at a Berkeley Homes development in Worcester Park, south-west London, is the latest in a spate of devastating fires. Residents testified to being woken by neighbours banging on windows and doors, telling them to get out of the four-storey building as the fire spread rapidly and firefighters struggled to get the blaze under control. In recent months, a series of buildings including a timber-frame care home in Crewe, a Holiday Inn in Walsall last month, and a Premier Inn vin Bristol in July, have burned down. These followed the flat fire in June that destroyed a new-build block on a Bellway development in Barking Riverside, east London, which had timber cladding.

All of these are on relatively low-rise buildings, and so far – thankfully – no-one has died or been seriously injured. But for those who have long been worried about the proliferation of timber-frame construction, a fatal fire is only a matter of time. 

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