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14 June 2017
It will be months before investigations into the cause and the progress of the fire that consumed the Grenfell Tower block of flats in north Kensington in the early hours of today will be completed, but allegations are being made that a recent refurbishment of the residential building may have compromised the fire integrity of the structure.
People who lived in the Grenfell are saying that they raised concerns about fire safety in the flats going back many years but they were disregarded.
Also under scrutiny is the standard advice to tenants of blocks of flats that they are safer if they stay in their accommodation than to leave, unless it is their flat which is on fire.
The fire caused a ‘number of fatalities’ and more than 70 people were hospitalised, including 20 who are critically injured. The final number of deaths will not be known for some time. More than 200 firefighters and 40 appliances have been at the scene.
Grenfell Tower was built in 1974 and consisted of 120 flats on 24 floors and also included communal facilities. A £10million refurbishment of the block took place in 2015/16 and the bottom four floors were extensively remodelled, adding nine additional homes.
Rydon Construction, who carried out the work, are reported to have said that it “met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards.”
A resident’s action group claims that fire safety equipment went untested and extinguishers that had ben condemned were not replaced.
Following the refurbishment work, London Fire Brigade gave the tower block a ‘medium’ fire risk rating but the resident’s group continued to make claims about fire safety worries.
Parallels have been drawn with the fatal fire in 2011 at a tower block in Lewisham. The local council was fined for breaching fire safety laws, including a lack of protection between flats.