World Desire to make London's Grenfell Tower 'prettier' likely escalated blaze

07:50  16 june  2017
07:50  16 june  2017 Source:   PRI

24-Story London Residential Tower Erupts in Flames

  24-Story London Residential Tower Erupts in Flames The London Fire Brigade said it had sent 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters to battle the fire at Grenfell Tower in West London.Police, fire and ambulance crews raced to Grenfell Tower, part of the Lancaster West housing estate about a mile northwest of Kensington Palace.

London Fire: Angry Residents Blame Council and Building Owners 01:34. The blaze broke out in the 1974-built Grenfell Tower , home to hundreds of people, shortly after 1am, with local residents blaming newly installed cladding for the fast spread of the fire.

Shaken survivors of a blaze that ravaged a west London tower block told Wednesday of seeing people trapped or jump to their doom as flames raced towards the Highlights. Hanan Wahabi, 39, who lives on the ninth floor of the 27-storey Grenfell Tower , said she was awoken around 1am by smoke.

  Desire to make London's Grenfell Tower 'prettier' likely escalated blaze © Stefan Wermuth / Reuters

Investigators are trying to get to the bottom of the fire that consumed a 24-story tower block in West London. British Prime Minister Theresa May is promising a full public inquiry into the tragedy.

But Financial Times' architecture critic, Edwin Heathcote, has already identified one cause: He says "prettification" was at least partly to blame.

Grenfell Tower is a typical concrete, public housing high rise. In the 1960s and ’70s, local housing authorities erected thousands of them all over the UK. And although some of these buildings were cheaply constructed, Heathcote says Grenfell Tower was actually built to be pretty safe.

British PM May faces mounting criticism over London tower block blaze

  British PM May faces mounting criticism over London tower block blaze <p>British Prime Minister Theresa May faced mounting criticism on Friday for not meeting the survivors of a deadly London tower block blaze, ratcheting up the pressure as she tries to strike a deal to stay in power after a botched election gamble.</p>May promised to hold a public inquiry into a fire that killed at least 17 people when it engulfed a 24-storey social housing block in West London, expressing her sorrow in a televised statement after meeting with the emergency services.

London fire: Twelve dead in Grenfell Tower blaze . BBC Local News: London -- The number of deaths is expected to rise, say police, as fire crews continue to fight the blaze . BBC Local News 5 hours ago - UKAlso reported by •West Briton •Belfast Telegraph •The Age

Nearby mosques, temples and churches have opened their doors following the huge fire in west London . An enormous blaze engulfed Grenfell Tower on Latimer Road in north Kensington in the early hours of this morning.

"It was a concrete frame with concrete columns on the outside, so there wasn't anything inherently badly built about it," he says.

But then the neighborhood around the building began to change. Today, it's surrounded by multimillion-pound luxury apartments. And the concrete Brutalist building was considered an eyesore.

The housing authority that owns Grenfell Tower decided to embark on a 8.6 million pound refurbishment. Part of that project involved wrapping the building in an aluminum cladding so that it would blend in better with the luxury towers nearby.

Experts say it was that cladding that turned the building into a tinder box on Wednesday.

"The aluminium composite panels are only very thin sheets of aluminium foil on the outside [of the building]. But there's usually a gap between the wall of the existing building and the cladding panel," says Heathcote. The flame gets drawn up through the gap, causing a chimney effect.

The Latest: 30 confirmed dead in London high-rise fire

  The Latest: 30 confirmed dead in London high-rise fire <p>London police say the number of victims has increased to 30 in the fire that engulfed a high-rise building.</p>12:30 p.m.

Sign in to make your opinion count. LIVE: West London Grenfell Tower fire, multiple casualties confirmed RT 24,395 watching. 'A kid went to the window on 22nd floor and jumped' – Grenfell Tower blaze eyewitness - Duration: 1:39.

London ’ s Fire Commissioner has confirmed there have been a number of people killed. The company that manages Grenfell Tower was ordered to make safety improvements to two other tower blocks after a serious blaze in 2015, it emerged today.

This diagram shows how the flame was drawn up through the cavity between the building and the aluminium panel, creating a chimney effect.© Credit: Courtesy of Probyn Miers This diagram shows how the flame was drawn up through the cavity between the building and the aluminium panel, creating a chimney effect.

The fire jumped from the fourth floor to the 24th in just 15 minutes. One eyewitness told London Channel 4 News that the cladding "just caught up like a matchstick.”

Heathcote says the fire raises important social questions.

"There are something like 4,000 of these social housing blocks still in the UK. And a lot of them are being gentrified."

Cladding, Heathcote points out, "is a typical response to gentrification." It attempts to "improve" a building's appearance to make it more marketable to private investors, while ignoring structural deficiencies. If Grenfell Tower hadn't been "prettified," it might still be standing today.

PM: Cladding similar to one in London tower blaze found on 600 buildings .
About 600 high-rise blocks in England have been fitted with cladding similar to that used on the London tower in which 79 died in a fire, Theresa May’s office said.Tests are being carried out on samples from blocks across the country at the rate of 100 a day, May told lawmakers in the House of Commons on Thursday as she urged all landlords to submit their properties for checks.

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