Huge London fire claims lives

Nick Myall
Wednesday 14 Jun 2017

A massive fire at a West London tower has brought the building close to collapse

Several people have been killed after a huge fire ripped through a 24-storey residential tower in Kensington, West London during Tuesday night. 

The London Ambulance Service have said that over 50 people are being treated in hospital while London Mayor Sadiq Khan said a "major incident" had been declared.

The first reports of fire in the tower, in Latimer Road, on the Lancaster West Estate, came in at 00:54 BST. Three hours later, people were still being evacuated from the tower, the police said. Fears that the building may collapse following the fire were made worse when sections of the building, which has burnt through to its core, could be seen crumbling.

According to the BBC, Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 by Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council. It's part of the Lancaster West Estate, a sprawling inner-city social housing complex of nearly 1,000 homes.

The building has recently had a two-year £10m refurbishment as part of a wider transformation of the estate which concluded last year. During the refurbishment new exterior cladding and a communal heating system were fitted. The tower contains 120 flats and is managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) on behalf of the council.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has issued a statement, confirming a number of fatalities. She says the cause of the fire is still unknown:

“This is an unprecedented situation, with a major fire that has affected all floors of this 24 storey building, from the second floor up. Over 200 firefighters and officers are attending this incident, with 40 fire engines and a range of other specialist vehicles, including 14 fire rescue units in attendance. Based on the level of resource that were needed at this fire we declared it a major incident in the early hours of this morning."

Construction firm Rydon, who completed the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in 2016 have issued a statement following the fire.

"We are shocked to hear of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower and our immediate thoughts are with those that have been immediately affected by the incident, their families relatives and friends.

"Rydon completed a refurbishment of the building in the summer of 2016 for KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) on behalf of the council, which met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards.

"We will cooperate with the relevant authorities and emergency services and fully support their inquiries into the causes of this fire at the appropriate time."

The local Grenfell Action Group had claimed, before and during the refurbishment that  the block constituted a fire risk and residents had warned that access to the site for emergency vehicles was "severely restricted".

Council leader Nick Paget-Brown said the buildings were regularly inspected, but a "thorough investigation" was needed.

In January 2016 WAN reported on a fire at a Dubai Hotel where it has emerged that the huge fire could have been fuelled by flammable panels which clad the 63-storey skyscraper.

Listen to a podcast on the Dubai fire here...

Nick Myall

News editor

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United Kingdom

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