Boy, 16, arrested on suspicion of murder after girl, 14, dies in flat fire

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A 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a 14-year-old girl died in a fire at a block of flats in east London.

Police were called at about 5.28pm on Thursday to reports of a fire in Tollgate Road, in Beckton, Newham, which is being investigated as suspected arson and has sparked a murder investigation.

A 14-year-old girl, named locally as Tiffany, died at the scene and five others at the address were injured, but Scotland Yard said their conditions are “not life-threatening and they have since been discharged from hospital”.

Beckton fire
The scene on Tollgate Road in Beckton, Newham after a fire at a block of flats. A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after one person, believed to be a woman, died in the blaze. Picture date: Friday April 7, 2023.

Chief Superintendent Simon Crick, who leads the north east command unit, said: “My thoughts at this time are with the victim and their family and friends.

“Incidents such as these send shockwaves through our communities and I don’t underestimate the impact this will have in the local area and beyond.

“Your officers will be on patrol in the immediate vicinity over the Easter weekend, please talk to them if you have any concerns.”

Flowers at the scene of the fire
Flowers at the scene of the fire (James Manning/PA)

One 14-year-old girl, who arrived at the scene with her mother to lay flowers, said she was in the same year nine class as the victim.

Two girls were seen hugging and crying as they placed flowers on the pavement outside the block of flats earlier on Friday.

A man who said he was a family friend, who gave his name only as Godfrey, 30, said: “She (Tiffany) was an angel, I’ve even got videos of her from when she young. She spent some time with my little nephews. Those memories with her I will never forget.”

Rahina Begum, who lives opposite the flats, described how the fire “went up very quickly, within a few seconds”.

“In 10 to 15 seconds the whole building was on fire, from the bottom to the top.

“The flames were so high. Somebody dying is so sad.”

A second neighbour, who also lives opposite the block of flats and did not wish to be named, described seeing people jump from the building to try to escape the flames.

He said: “People were jumping from the windows. There were people helping them. All the people were telling them to jump to try and help them.”

Forensic officers are at the scene of the blaze and the Metropolitan Police have sealed off a section of Tollgate Road.

Detective Chief Inspector Joanna Yorke, of the Met’s specialist crime command, said: “We are at the very early stages of our investigation and are still keen to hear from anyone who has information but has not yet spoken with police.

“I understand the effect an incident of this kind will have on the local community and I reiterate Chief Superintendent Crick’s advice that anyone with concerns should speak with local officers.

“I would like to thank residents in the immediate area for their co-operation while my team conduct their enquiries.

“Our thoughts are with the family of the victim.”

“Throughout the day today our crews will be in the local community to offer support and advice to those affected by this fire.

“This was a very tragic incident and our crews who attended the scene are receiving support from our counselling and trauma service.”

The mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said she was “deeply saddened” by the incident and offered “our deepest condolences to loved ones now in mourning”.

Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Tweet @MetCC quoting 5315/6APR.

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