June 28, 2017
Featured image: By ChiralJon – Grenfell Hearts, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60219506
The Grenfell Tower fire started on 14 June 2017 at the 24-storey, 220-foot (67 m) high, Grenfell Tower block of public housing flats in North Kensington, west London. It caused at least 80 deaths and over 70 injuries. A definitive death toll is not expected until at least 2018. As of 5 July 2017, 21 victims had been formally identified by the Metropolitan Police. Authorities were unable to trace any surviving occupants of 23 of the flats.
Emergency services received the first report of the fire at 00:54 local time. It burned for about 60 hours until finally extinguished. Initially hundreds of firefightersand 45 fire engines were involved in efforts to control the fire, with many firefighters continuing to fight pockets of fire on the higher floors after most of the rest of the building had been gutted. Residents of surrounding buildings were evacuated due to concerns that the tower could collapse, but the building was later determined to be structurally sound.
The tower contained 129 flats. Police were unable to trace any survivors from 23 of these and their occupants are believed to have died in the fire. Firefighters rescued 65 people. 74 people were confirmed to be in six hospitals across London; 17 of them were in a critical condition. The fire started in a fridge-freezer on the fourth-floor. The rapid growth of the fire is believed to have been accelerated by the building’s exterior cladding.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, criticised the safety guidelines, in particular, those telling people to stay in their flats until rescued. This advice presumed that the building’s structure could contain a fire within a single flat, but in this case the fire was spreading rapidly via the building’s exterior. Since 2013, the residents’ organisation, Grenfell Action Group, had repeatedly expressed concern about fire safety, saying in November 2016 that only a catastrophic fire would force the block’s management to adequately address fire precautions and maintenance of fire-related systems.
On 16 June 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May, who had been criticised for failing to meet Grenfell Tower residents following the tragedy, announced a £5 million fund for victims of the fire. All those made homeless were to receive an initial down payment of £5,500, with each household to be given at least £500 in cash and £5,000 paid into an account. On 18 June the government announced that a new dedicated response team was taking over the management of the ongoing response to the disaster – acknowledging that the initial response by the state, both locally and nationally, was inadequate. On 21 June, the government announced that 68 new flats in the local borough were to be made available to survivors.
What happened on 14th June at Grenfell Tower: report from the BBC on the drama of Grenfell Tower
The Immense kindness
Claire Murdock, Chair of the Central and North West London Hospitals, CNWL, NHS Trusts, organisation who has been supported the victims with Mental Health Support, has described the work of the community as one of ‘the immense kindness’.
On a message to CNWL staff she said:
“The death toll has reached 30 people now and it is likely to rise, and with it, bring back the horror. This is terrible for their families and friends, as well as all the survivors who remain homeless, grief stricken and bereft, and sometimes angry.
“One thing I do recognise about our country however, is the immense kindness people who live here. We have staff on the ground assisting however we can – so a huge thank you to everyone who has worked there, or offered to go to help others and other partner organisations like CLCH, RBKC, LCW (who run the 111 service) and the voluntary sector.
Since the news were spread across Britain and around the world, the London community started to mobilise. People where bringing food, clothes, blankets, were coming to the area to organise the donations, to provide food to the victims.
How to contribute financially: details here
Community Meeting For Grenfell Residents & Locals In Ladbroke Groove 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/wVuBi2eNSS
— Ashley Theophane (@AshleyTheophane) June 23, 2017
two of many events organised to support people affected at Grenfell Tower
— Dance Magazine (@Dance_Magazine) July 7, 2017
— British Bourbon Society (@BritishBourbon) July 7, 2017
An article which illustrates involvement of the community
— BuzzFeed UK (@BuzzFeedUK) June 30, 2017