What we Know of London’s Grenfell Tower so far

London – Not 48 hours ago, a fire broke out in the fourth level of the Grenfell Tower apartment building about 12:58 a.m. local time, rapidly compelling the response of more than 40 fire vehicles and 200 firefighters. To date, at least 17 residents are known to have lost their lives in this 1970s-era residential building comprised of about 127 apartments across its 24 floors. 74 injured occupants were treated in hospital, with 30 still in hospital (including 15 in critical care units). Local officials estimate there are between 400 and 600 residents of Grenfell Tower.

Grenfell was built in 1974, and fire sprinklers were not required at that time, which is not in itself surprising. Of greater concern is hearing of a retrofit completed in May 2016, which included a number of exterior, heating and cosmetic improvements – but little mention of fire life safety improvements.  (Designers had claimed the design was such that any fire in an individual unit would be confined to the apartment and not spread elsewhere, a view echoed by local fire and inspection officials.)

The hazards of the building were also not unknown, and alarms having been sounded long before the fire klaxons sounded in the dead of night on 14 June. The Grenfell Action Group has been taking action — and blogging about it — dating back several years, though yet to little avail.

Officials indicated there were indeed many questions to be answered, but that task falls secondary to first tending to rescuing those trapped and recovering those who perished in the conflagration.

Fire officials declared the fire under control about 1:14 a.m. this morning local time (Thursday, June 15).

We wish the injured a speedy recovery and prayers for those who did not survive… and implore fire officials in their respective communities to take heed of these hard lessons to avoid tragedy in our own neighborhoods.

 

Sources: BBC News http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-40272168, photo credit/rights to: Grenfell Action Group (night feature image); BBC News (timelapse photo)

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