The Grenfell Tower Story So Far

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On June 14th at around 1am, a fire broke out at Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey building in North Kensington, London. A total of 65 people were rescued from the building and around 80 people are believed to have died in the fire.

The fire has destroyed around 1,000 homes and has been left extensively damaged by a suspected Hotpoint fridge fault on the fourth floor.

The blaze which had not been brough under control until around 1.14am the next day, was tackled by more than 250 firefighters and 70 fire engines working endlessly to ensure safety of the area, save anyone left inside the building and control the flames.

With many fatalities and injuries, the council have been criticised along with protocol and rules enforced to residents. The rule for residents to stay in flats until rescued has been blamed for the large amount of fatalities. This rule was made in an aim to contain a fire in a flat and ensure residents are safe until the fire is put out, however as the fire travelled up the exterior, it spread fast and engulfed the whole tower due to the cladding used.

With a polyethylene core, the cladding used was less fireproof than others but is still approved for use in the UK, but banned in America.

Residents had previously complained that the building was unsafe with a single stairway for exiting in a fire, no sprinklers and exposed gas pipes. With now both a public enquiry and a criminal investigation has been launched, with the council, government and contractors all under scrutiny.

A 42-member team, including 6 archaeologists are also working to recover the remains of victims, floor by floor through the debris, although police have warned some bodies may never be identified.

The tower was built in 1974 by Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council was recently renovated in an £8.6 m refurbishment by Rydon Construction in May 2016. This included giving the tower a new exterior cladding, replacement windows and a communal heating system.

The events at Grenfell have led to anger and protests after residents and locals have really felt the gap between rich and poor has contributed to this disaster. The cladding being used as a cheaper alternative to save the council money. The borough being one richest in the country with average salary £123,000 the mid- point salary is £32,700. There is no other authority in country with such a large gap.

Buildings are being checked for similar cladding with buildings in Aberdeen such as extensions to Aberdeen Grammar School and Woodlands School having similar material however councils have stated that there is no safety at risk.

As for Grenfell, according to ITV news, of the 176 households involved in the disaster, only 48 have accepted temporary new accommodation and only 14 have been given permanent new homes. This figure having not changed in five weeks.

Along with the rehousing, the investigation has barely begun. The enquiry hopes to seek justice for those affected and aims to find out the truth to prevent such events from happening again. Questions such as how it was able to spread so fast, why the concerns were ignored, how was this cladding allowed, will all be under investigation as well as the continued search for remains, which police have warned may not be completed until next year.

 

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