Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Long-awaited investigation into fatal fire at Chingford care home begins

Ashlie Timms died at the age of 46 after a fire at the home for disabled adults

Hero for Long-awaited investigation into fatal fire at Chingford care home begins
The fire in 2018 (credit: @LAS_HART)
By Victoria Munro 23 March 2022

A long-awaited investigation into the tragic death of a resident at a Chingford home for disabled adults has finally begun.A long-awaited investigation into the tragic death of a resident at a Chingford home for disabled adults has finally begun.

Ashlie Timms, 46, died on 20th April 2018 after a fire, thought to have been caused by an electrical fault, broke out at Connington Court in Connington Crescent.Ashlie Timms, 46, died on 20th April 2018 after a fire, thought to have been caused by an electrical fault, broke out at Connington Court in Connington Crescent.

The fire began around 2am and took more than three hours to control, with a neighbour remarking at an inquest this week that the three-storey building burned “like a tinderbox”.The fire began around 2am and took more than three hours to control, with a neighbour remarking at an inquest this week that the three-storey building burned “like a tinderbox”.

All eight other residents and four carers managed to escape the care home and supported living facility, run by Sequence Care.All eight other residents and four carers managed to escape the care home and supported living facility, run by Sequence Care.

Ashlie Timms (provided by family)Ashlie Timms (provided by family)

Neighbour Bernadette Cleere, who was the one to alert the London Fire Brigade, told the jury on 21st March that she believes staff present that night “obviously did not know” to call 999.Neighbour Bernadette Cleere, who was the one to alert the London Fire Brigade, told the jury on 21st March that she believes staff present that night “obviously did not know” to call 999.

She told the jury: “I opened my front door and to my left was Ashlie’s room on the ground floor. I saw grey and black smoke and couldn’t see in the window, that’s how thick it was.She told the jury: “I opened my front door and to my left was Ashlie’s room on the ground floor. I saw grey and black smoke and couldn’t see in the window, that’s how thick it was.

“There were residents from the home being taken by staff across the road to the grass verge. One young man kept running back into the building, even though it was on fire, to try to get people out.”“There were residents from the home being taken by staff across the road to the grass verge. One young man kept running back into the building, even though it was on fire, to try to get people out.”

Bernadette called 999 for the first time at exactly 2.14am but said that shortly afterwards her husband answered the door to a member of staff, asking them to call for help.Bernadette called 999 for the first time at exactly 2.14am but said that shortly afterwards her husband answered the door to a member of staff, asking them to call for help.

She said: “He was screaming ‘phone the number, call the number’... He obviously didn’t know 999 [because] I can’t imagine why he would ask us to phone if he knew what the number was.”She said: “He was screaming ‘phone the number, call the number’... He obviously didn’t know 999 [because] I can’t imagine why he would ask us to phone if he knew what the number was.”

The inquest is due to hear evidence from carers who were working at the home that night, although concerns were raised on Monday that three had yet to confirm they would attend.The inquest is due to hear evidence from carers who were working at the home that night, although concerns were raised on Monday that three had yet to confirm they would attend.

East London coroner Graeme Irvine said it was “incredibly disappointing that these witnesses are not in contact” and said he was prepared to issue warrants if necessary.East London coroner Graeme Irvine said it was “incredibly disappointing that these witnesses are not in contact” and said he was prepared to issue warrants if necessary.

At its height, 72 firefighters - from Woodford, Chingford, Walthamstow, Enfield and Leytonstone fire stations - were sent to tackle the fire.At its height, 72 firefighters - from Woodford, Chingford, Walthamstow, Enfield and Leytonstone fire stations - were sent to tackle the fire.

The inquest at Barking Town Hall continues and is scheduled to last until 14th April.The inquest at Barking Town Hall continues and is scheduled to last until 14th April.