By Adenike Lucas
A police commander has confirmed that 12 people have dead in a fire that began on a fourth floor of a socialing housing flats in West London.
Wayne Brown, the deputy assistant chief of the London Fire Brigade said work was going on “to damp down any pockets of fire.”
Over 600 people were in the Grenfell Tower, sleeping when the fire began. Fire fighters said they were able to save 65 people from the tower. Others have shared their escape stories to the media. At the moment, 18 people are said to be receiving critical care.
Eye witnesses say they saw people jumping out from the building, in an attempt to escape what has been described as the worst to happen in London.
It is still not being confirmed what started the fire. Fire fighters, who were called at about 1 am on Wednesday morning to quell the flames, have reached every floor on the 24-storey building. They are not expecting to find any more survivors. The death toll is expected to rise.
The Grenfell Tower which is owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and managed by the Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, KCTMO was recently refurbished and clad for 10.3 million pounds.
There are questions being asked whether the cladding increased the speed at which the fire burnt.
Rydon, the company behind the refurbishment work, said the cladding and other changes had been made to help with “improving thermal insulation and modernising the exterior of the building.”
Labour councillor Judith Blakeman who lived close to the tower said, “If the cladding was partly responsible for the fire we need to know what the specification for the cladding was and why it suddenly just went up (in flames) in about five minutes, because it should have been fire resistant, surely,”
Many residents complained that fire alarms could not be heard in their flats. Safety concerns have also been raised by others in the past.
In November of last year, Grenfell Acton Group posted a blog where it accused the landlord of failing safety measure.
In the blog, the resident group warned of an accident waiting to happen.
“It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.
“We believe that the KCTMO are an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of looking after the every day management of large scale social housing estates and that their sordid collusion with the RBKC Council is a recipe for a future major disaster.
“Unfortunately, the Grenfell Action Group have reached the conclusion that only an incident that results in serious loss of life of KCTMO residents will allow the external scrutiny to occur that will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation. We believe that the KCTMO have ensured their ongoing survival by the use of proxy votes at their Annual General Meeting that see them returned with a mandate of 98% in favour of the continuation of their inept and highly dangerous management of our homes.”
Today, they said all their warning had fallen on deaf ears.