The UK woke up to news today of the tragic overnight fire at Grenfell Tower, Latimer Road, in Kensington, London. Rarely has the capital seen a blaze of such magnitude; a truly horrific event – and here at Evolve we send out our deepest condolences to every last person affected. It really doesn’t bear thinking about. At least six people have been killed, with more yet possible, and at least 50 injured.
Some of the witness reports are positively harrowing: including tales of people desperately screaming for help, even throwing their children from the building to spare them the flames. Two hundred firefighters attended the scene with numerous fire and rescue engines, alongside at least 20 ambulance crews.
Causes of the fire are still being ascertained, but many local residents and those who escaped the blaze have made statements regarding the terrible “plastic smell”. Some have also suggested a recent refurbishment to the tower block may be to blame – at least for the way the building reportedly “went up like a matchstick”.
Local resident Tasha Brade, speaking to BBC News, stated:
I think people are in shock. People are angry. The refurbishment that you mentioned I think has played a big part in the fire, and it spread so rapidly – the plastic cladding was like paper. It just burned straight through. And so people are angry, and people want answers. There were many warnings, people raised their concerns, and nothing was done about it. And it’s our home community. It might not matter so much to Westminster, but it matters to us. We’re angry and sad.
— Alex McNamara (@Alex_McNamara) June 14, 2017
According to The Guardian:
It has emerged that concerns about fire safety in the tower were raised as early as 2012, when a health and safety review found firefighting equipment had not been checked for up to four years. A residents’ group also raised concerns about the single emergency exit to the building in 2016, warning that if that exit were to become blocked in a fire, people would be trapped inside.
More damning still, a blog from the ‘Grenfell Action Group‘ this morning has stated:
“We have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in (the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea). ALL OUR WARNINGS FELL ON DEAF EARS and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”
— ✯ Natalie ✯ (@Natalie_Oxford) June 14, 2017
Grenfell Tower comprises of about 120 homes, and was built in the 1970s. The building had recently undergone refurbishment, completed only last year, with reported costs of between £8.7m – £10m. The external plastic cladding residents spoke of was one of those refurbishments made in 2016, along with added double glazing, and a communal heating system.
Investigations will doubtlessly continue, and any potential responsibility for the blaze determined. If corporate and/or building negligence is fully or partially to blame, one can only imagine the anger that residents, and people elsewhere in the UK will feel.
Yet again, the absolute critical importance of the UK’s emergency services are held up all too vividly – plain for all to see. We must all do everything we can to ensure our society caters for those who need it most, retaining the resources it so desperately needs to react to and counter such truly terrible, tragic events.
Once again, our hearts go out to the victims on this sad day. We would urge our readers to please consider helping those affected: donations can be made a number of ways, including a JustGiving page set up specially.
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