London Fire Brigade

Guest house owner handed six-month suspended sentence after Barking blaze

01 February 2017

A guest house owner who put 'lives at serious risk' has been sentenced to six months custody, suspended for two years, for breaking fire safety laws following a blaze at her Barking premises.

The fire, which broke out early in the morning of Wednesday, 30 April 2014, caused two people to jump to safety from a window and resulted in a number of others being treated for smoke inhalation.

At an earlier hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court on 10 December, Kanchan Sawhney, who ran the 'Barking Guest House' on Bastable Avenue at the time of the fire, was found guilty of three offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order following a successful prosecution by the Brigade.

The blaze, which was caused by a faulty electric blanket, left the ground and first floor of the three-storey converted end of terrace house badly damaged.

Fire Safety Inspectors raised serious concerns

Following the fire, our  fire safety inspecting officers visited the premises, which had sleeping space for 23 people, and raised a number of serious concerns.

They found:

  • an inadequate fire alarm and detection system
  • inadequate escape route
  • no fire risk assessment


Owner put 'lives at risk'

Following the sentencing hearing at Snaresbrook Crown on Tuesday, 31  January, our Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety, Dan Daly, said: "This was a very serious fire which left a number of people needing medical attention and if it hadn't been for the efforts of the firefighters who brought it under control, the outcome could have been even worse.

"As the owner of the guest house, Ms Sawhney was responsible for ensuring the correct fire safety measures were in place and that her  premises met fire safety regulations.

"The fact that they clearly weren't in place and didn't meet those regulations put the lives of everyone inside the property at serious risk.

"Building owners and managers have a clear responsibility under the law to ensure those in their premises are safe from the risk of fire.

"Hopefully the sentence handed down in this case will serve as a stark reminder to others to ensure they fulfil their own fire safety responsibilities under the law."