Established 2005 Registered Charity No. 1110656

Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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Hostel ravaged by fire

May 18 2009
Residents escape as the best hostel in Camden is gutted Tenants of a state-of-the-art homeless hostel in King's Cross were evacuated after fire broke out on the evening of 23rd May. Cumbria House in Hunter Street was home to 48 residents taking part in a scheme to help them make the transition to independent living. The fire began around 10pm and burned long into the night, gutting the building. All the residents escaped without injury. The Cumbria House hostel, hailed as the best in Camden, had reopened only three days previously, following a £5m refurbishment. It was the flagship project for the borough's £19m Pathways scheme to get the homeless off the streets. Councillor Chris Naylor, Executive Member for Housing, Camden Council, told a local paper: "This fire is devastating for the staff and residents. Council staff worked with the emergency services throughout the night to set up a shelter and find new beds for all residents after they were evacuated." The fire spread unchecked through the building while tenants watched the Champion's League final. Several people left the building without their shoes, and many lost all their possessions. Borough officials do not know what started the fire, or how long the hostel will take to rebuild. No comment has been made about a water shortage to the building, which neighbours say severely hampered the rescue effort. Firefighters managed to control the blaze in the early hours. Chris Naylor said: "The cause of the blaze is under investigation and the council's building control section is assessing the safety of the building." Salvation Army hostel manager Major Malcolm Walters has given assurances that the building will definitely reopen.