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Multiple fatalities in London tower block fire

14 June 2017

FIFTY EIGHT people have died and the death toll is expected to rise to more than 70 following a major fire at a tower block in London.

Firefighters are still tackling the blaze at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington with fears the building may collapse. Eyewitnesses have said they have heard screams from people trapped inside the building and debris continues to fall from the building. The fire began at 1am and at one point more than 200 firefighters from London Fire Brigade were on site. It's feared the final death toll may exceed 70 people.

London fire commissioner Dany Cotton said there has been multiple fatalities but she would not be drawn on exact numbers due to the size and complexity of the building. She told the BBC: This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”

Grenfell Action Group, formed in 2010, has been campaigning for safety checks at the building which was built in 1974. On its website there are a number of blogs expressing concerns about Grenfell Tower's fire safety measures.

In November 2016, one post stated that "only a catastrophic event" would expose the true extent of the concerns raised. According to the website, Grenfell Tower had one entry and exit point during a refurbishment project and warned that access was "severely restricted".

Following this morning's fire, the blogger posted: “All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”

Fire Sector Federation chair Paul Fuller says there are big questions to be asked following the incident. He said: "Today’s tragedy will be felt throughout the fire sector, where all our efforts are focussed on ensuring the safety of our communities and of ensuring that our buildings are adequately protected.

"We wish to express our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by this terrible event and pay tribute to the fire service which once again has shown its bravery and professionalism in its response to this incident. There is no doubt that there will be questions to answer and the Fire Sector Federation will continue to investigate and campaign for improvements in fire protection and fire safety legislation."

The Association for Specialist Fire Protection also released a statement saying: "The ASFP wishes to convey its sincere condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in the Grenfell Tower tragedy and to pay tribute to the bravery and professionalism of the fire service. 

"The incident highlights a number of concerns regarding fire safety in the built environment and demonstrates how vigilant we must all be when designing, supplying and installing fire protection in buildings.

"Compartmentation and structural fire protection play a vital role in protecting escape routes and slowing the spread of fire and smoke. But there can be tragic consequences which may ensue if such systems are not adequately specified, installed and maintained; or are bypassed by rapid fire spread outside the building as may have happened at Grenfell House."

For anyone concerned about family and friends please call 0800 0961 233.

You can view a video of the fire below:

Image Courtesy of Grenfell Action Group