Socialist Worker

After helicopter crashes in Vauxhall, fight Tory plans to slash fire service

by Simon Basketter
Published Tue 22 Jan 2013
Issue No. 2337

Two people died after a helicopter crash in Vauxhall, south London, on Wednesday of last week.

Burning wreckage and aviation fuel covered the road. Witnesses reported seeing cars on fire and hearing people screaming.

Rob, a construction worker, told Socialist Worker at the scene, “I heard an almighty bang.

“I saw the reflection in buildings of a lot of smoke then I went down to the side gate and there was a fireball in the road.”

Sharon told Socialist Worker, “We heard a big crash, the bang, and then we got up and went out.

“There were three cars on fire. One was completely disintegrated, you couldn’t see it at all.”

A commercial helicopter had crashed into a crane attached to a high rise building, St George Wharf Tower.

Lambeth and Westminster councils had opposed planning permission for the tower.

But the then Labour government overruled them in 2005.

The combination of increased helicopter traffic to transport the wealthy and vanity high-profile construction projects makes accidents of this sort more likely.

But the biggest risk to life comes from cuts.

Some of the first firefighters on the scene at Vauxhall came from Clapham. Clapham is one of the 12 fire stations that London’s Tory mayor Boris Johnson wants to close.

Paul Embery from London FBU union said, “Had Clapham been closed, there might not have been a long delay but there would have been a delay.

“Fire kills within minutes. Any delay would see deaths and injuries.”

Paul said that the fire service is already “really, really stretched”. If the cuts go through, “It will get even worse”.


Article information

News
Tue 22 Jan 2013, 17:05 GMT
Issue No. 2337
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