London High-Rise Fire Accelerated by Grenfell Tower Building Materials: Expert

Former firefighter says cladding on exterior of building was responsible for spreading flames.

June 14, 2017 10:45 am
The Grenfell Tower engulfed in flames in West London early June 14, 2017.
In this image taken by eyewitness Gurbuz Binici, a huge fire engulfs the 24 story Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, West London in the early hours of this morning on June 14, 2017 in London, England. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has declared the fire a major incident. Fatalities have been confirmed and at least 50 people are receiving hospital treatment. (Photo by Gurbuz Binici /Getty Images)

A devastating fire ripped through a 24-story building in London late last night, killing at least six residents and putting 20 more in intensive care.

Many others are still missing, with disturbed witnesses reporting that children were seen desperately leaping from the windows of the engulfed apartment tower. As many as 500 people are speculated to have been inside the building at the time of the blaze.

The horrific footage, aired on news networks across the globe, showed nearly the entire building engulfed in flames—leading at least one expert to blame the cladding on the exterior for allowing such a rapid spread.

Smoke rises from the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story residential Grenfell Tower block in London.
Smoke rises from the building after a huge fire engulfed the 24 story residential Grenfell Tower block in West London. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

This horrific tragedy could’ve been avoided, claimed residents of Grenfell House who wrote extensively — and for years — about fire safety concerns in the building before the fire broke out on the fourth floor.

“There is something seriously wrong with a bureaucracy that is incapable of reacting to serious negligence, affecting fire safety in a densely occupied tower block, with any sense of urgency,” a 2013 post on the Grenfell Action Group reads. “Does anyone actually give a damn?”

Residents and guests who escaped the block reportedly said they didn’t hear any fire alarms within the apartments themselves, according to the Guardian, and conservative MP Mike Penning, who is a former firefighter and fire minister, told BBC News that the flames were accelerated by the cladding used on the outside of the building.

He said: “The cladding was clearly spreading the fire …We need to find out what went on.”

The building, constructed in 1974, recently underwent a $10.9 million refurbishment overseen by Studio E Architects, the Architects Journal reports.

The Architects’ Journal cited Harley Facades as the firm which provided the cladding for Grenfell. A spokesperson from Studio E Architects reportedly said: “We are terribly shocked by the whole event. We have nothing else to add at this point.

“It’s still on-going and it would be inappropriate to make a comment or speculate.”

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