Grenfell fire - our live coverages as news of the atrocity become available

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With at least 12 confirmed dead at the London towerblock fire this morning (14th June) it has emerged that repeated warnings to the landlord and council of a fire hazard were ignored.  Early reports indicate that tower was home to 120 families, many drawn from poor migrant communities. 

The Grenfell Action Group this morning posted "we have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in RBKC." - they had previously called KCTMO "an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia" in their blog where 8 warnings about this tower had been posted.

Residents said there were no fire alarms or sprinklers in the corridors and that in at least some cases smoke detectors in flats didn’t go off.  They were only woken by noise or the smell of smoke.  Some eyewitnesses reported children trapped on 5-7th floor being thrown to people outside to catch.

A Grenfell Action Group blog post from November warned
"The Grenfell Action Group predict that it won’t be long before the words of this blog come back to haunt the KCTMO management and we will do everything in our power to ensure that those in authority know how long and how appallingly our landlord has ignored their responsibility to ensure the heath and safety of their tenants and leaseholders. They can’t say that they haven’t been warned!"

Someone who worked in the area a couple of years back told us "I saw these absolutely cramped and basically dilapidated tower blocks every day. Backed up against the Shard in the distance with washing hanging on strings off the balcony and food kept in bags hanging out the windows because it was cheaper than paying the leccy for the fridge in winter they were a pretty clear symbol of class division"

The breaking news story on Wikipedia reported that "This part of London has a large North African population, including significant Moroccan and Somali communities. Sky News reported that many lives may have been saved by the fact that many residents were celebrating Ramadan and were awake later than usual after breaking their fast for the day"

A resident who appears to have been involved in rescue operations angrily told Sky News "they put these shoddy plastic things on there..because they want more reasons to knock these blocks down.. they can either regenerate the blocks or knock them down and after .. I'm not so sure that was even totally an accident, I'm not gonna lie, you can pause me there but I'm not going to lie, the whole situation that is going on, the way that they don't want us here and they put those rich mans blocks over there .. they way that they treat (men?) in here is outrageous"
 

It appears as recently as July 2014  the KCTMO instructed residents to stay in the flat in case of a fire (see comments for link to PDF)
Emergency fire arrangements
Our long-standing 'stay put' policy stays in force until you are told otherwise. This means that (unless there is a fire in your flat or in the hallway outside your flat) you should stay inside your flat. This is because Grenfell was designed according to rigorous fire safety standards. Also, the new front doors for each flat can withstand a fire for up to 30 minutes, which gives plenty of time for the fire brigade to arrive.

Presumably in response to this London Mayor Sadiq Khan has told BBC radio "Thankfully residents didn't take that advice but fled... these are some of the questions that have to be answered. We have lots of people in London living in tower blocks... We can't have peoples lives being put at risk because of bad advice or lack of maintenance."

Eyewitness Samira Lamrani told  the Press Association :
"People were starting to appear at the windows, frantically banging and screaming. The windows were slightly ajar, a woman was gesturing that she was about to throw her baby and if somebody could catch her baby. Somebody did, a gentleman ran forward and managed to grab the baby.

I could see people from all angles, banging and screaming for help. My daughter’s friend said she observed an adult who made some sort of home-made parachute and tried to lower himself out of the window.

The more I looked up, floor upon floor, [there were] endless numbers of people. Mainly the kids, because obviously their voices, with their high pitched voices – that will remain with me for a long time. I could hear them screaming for their lives."

Austerity in he UK as elsewhere has seen fire services cut so that subsidies & tax breaks can go to corporations.  Writing on the Guardian live blog Alan Travis revealed "There are almost 7,000 fewer firefighters in England than five years ago, leading to longer response times and a 25% fall in the number of fire prevention visits, according to the latest Home Office figures published last month."  and that although fire related deaths have been falling from 1980  they " rose to 303 last year – a 15% increase – bringing the downward trend to an end."

More than 250 firefighters have been involved in fighting the fire and reducing trapped residents.  Photos online show firefighters holding riot shields over their heads to protect themselves from falling debris as they carry out this work although its no longer believed the building itself is at risk of collapse.

The exterior of the tower had been refurbished last year.  The company that did the refurb have removed that information from their website today.  There is speculation that the cladding may have been flammable, the cladding supplier went bankrupt last year.

Methrob a resident of the building told LBC radio that ‘The whole one side of the building was on fire. The cladding went up like a matchstick."

The Independent has since revealed the main purpose of the cladding may have been to improve the view from nearby luxury flats, citing a  planning document for the regeneration works that read "Due to its height the tower is visible from the adjacent Avondale Conservation Area to the south and the Ladbroke Conservation Area to the east .. The changes to the existing tower will improve its appearance especially when viewed from the surrounding area.""

The post on the Grenfell action blog this morning ends
"ALL OUR WARNINGS FELL ON DEAF EARS and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time. Below is a list of links to previous blogs we posted on this site trying to warn the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea who own this property and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation who supposedly manage all social housing in RBKC on the Council’s behalf:

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We were updating this story as more news emerges, updates were posted to the comments under the photo and added in here.
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Original Image By Natalie Oxford - https://twitter.com/Natalie_Oxford/status/874835244989513729/photo/1, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59913134

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