Grenfell Tower fire
The Grenfell Tower fire is a large fire that started shortly before 01:00 BST (UTC +1) on 14 June 2017 at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower, a block of flats, in North Kensington, West London. It is being attended to by at least 200 firefighters and 45 fire appliances, but the fire has not been contained. It was reported that people may have been trapped in the fire.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, declared the fire a "major incident".
Grenfell Tower was completed in 1974.
It contains 120 flats.
In 2015–2016, the concrete structure received new windows and new plastic cladding with thermal insulation. After the fire began, there was considerable discussion about the cladding, with people asking questions as to how safe it was.
In July 2009, a fatal fire occurred at a high-rise block in Camberwell. Three women and three children were killed and more than 20 were injured. Firefighters had expressed shock at the rapid spread and ferocity of the blaze with some suggesting a major construction flaw was present in other high-rise buildings in London.
In November 2016, a residents organisation, Grenfell Action Group, published an article on their website accusing the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea of ignoring health and safety legislation. They accused the council landlord Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation of being an "evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia" and of misconduct regarding voting at annual general meetings. The Group also suggested "the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord". The group has frequently published articles criticising poor fire safety and maintenance at Grenfell Tower. They also revealed that residents had been urged by the landlord and council in newsletters and by notices to stay in their flats in the event of a fire.
The fire broke out early in the morning; the London Fire Brigade were first called to the fire at 1:16 am. The fire stretched from the second floor and spread upward.
A team of 200 firefighters on 40 fire engines are attempting to control the blaze and rescue people. At 4:14 am, officials from the Metropolitan Police addressed the large crowd of onlookers and urgently instructed them to tell anyone they know who is trapped in the building—if they are able to reach them via phone or social media—to tell them they must try to self-evacuate and not wait for the fire brigade. According to witnesses, there were people trapped inside, waving from windows for help. There were also eyewitness reports that some people were jumping out. Multiple residents said no alarms went off when the fire started.
By sunrise, the firefighters were still battling the fire and trying to spray areas where people were seen trapped inside. A large crowd had gathered to watch, but they were pushed back away from the building because of falling debris. After 5 am, the building was still burning and severely damaged; there were fears it could collapse.
Assistant fire commissioner Dan Daly said, "Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire. This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances."
At 6:45 a.m., residents told media there are still people alive and trapped inside the building whom they are communicating with.
By 5 a.m. local time, police reported that multiple people were being treated for smoke inhalation. They did not comment on whether there were any fatalities. The London Ambulance Service sent 20 ambulance crews to respond to the incident.
At 6:30 a.m., it was reported that 30 people were taken to five hospitals.
Councillor Nick Paget-Brown, the leader of the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council, said he was attempting to find out how many people were in the building at the time of the fire. He said, "Several hundred [people] would have been in there. It's a question of establishing how many were in there at the time of the fire...This is a very, very, very severe fire."
This part of London has a large North African population, including significant Moroccan and Somali communities. Sky News reported that many lives may have been saved by the fact that many residents were celebrating Ramadan and were awake later than usual after breaking their fast for the day.
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined. Multiple media outlets have reported it was possibly caused by an exploding appliance. A fourth-floor resident told the media that it was his neighbour's refrigerator that exploded around 1:00 a.m., and that they immediately began knocking on doors and trying to alert people. He said that within half an hour, the building was entirely engulfed in flames.
Prior to the fire, the Grenfell Action Group posted numerous concerns on their blog concerning the major risk of fire.
The fire caused the suspension of parts of the Hammersmith and City line and Circle line of the London Underground. The A40 Westway was closed in both directions.
People from surrounding buildings have also been evacuated because of fears the tower may collapse. Saint Clement Church on Treadgold Street and Saint James Church at St James's Gardens, in the Deanery of Kensington opened up to provide shelter for people evacuated from their homes
Sources: news.lv, bbc.co.uk