A Massive fire has engulfed a large block of flats (Grenfell Tower) in west London yesterday, killing twelve people and more are still reported missing.
Residents are desperately searching for answers to the cause of this tragedy.
Matt Wrack, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, told the BBC’s Newsnight that people living in Grenfell Tower “have the right” to ask questions about whether alterations to the cladding compromised the safety of the building. “The starting point is there needs to be an absolutely thorough investigation,” he said. “The truth is this should not be happening in the UK, one of the wealthiest countries in the world.”
When questioned about advice given to residents to stay in their properties in case of fire, Wrack said: “The logic of construction of tower blocks is to compartmentalise the fire, so a fire should be restricted to the flat or floor of origin.
“If during the course of renovations – I’m not saying this has happened because we don’t know – if during the course of renovations fire-resistant walls, doors, ceilings have been compromised, then clearly the whole basis on which that advice has been based falls apart.
“This should not be happening, that’s the horrible aspect of this incident.”
The Rev Mike Long also invited those present to light candles to place on the steps of the church on Wednesday evening. He then played Amazing Grace on his flute as members of the crowd sang along. He said:
“There are times when all the words we can say are not adequate and sometimes words fail us because no words can do justice to how we feel, or what we have seen or what has happened. Today is one of those days.
What we can simply do is look to all that we have seen today which is good, which is fabulous – people getting together.
Let light triumph over all that is rotten, that is desperate and that defies our understanding”.
A man known as Michael told Sky News of how he saved a young girl. “I wasn’t woken up by the alarms at all, they were very, very quiet.
“I was in bed, and I was on the verge of falling asleep and I smelt plastic. I woke up and looked around the flat, checked the plugs, everything was okay.
“I went to the window to smoke a cigarette, I opened the window, and I heard someone saying, it’s getting bigger, it’s getting bigger.
“So, I’ve got out to the hallway, I’ve looked through the spy hole, I’ve seen smoke everywhere, I’ve opened the door and the neighbours were there.
“People screaming, there were firemen saying ‘get down the stairs’, I’ve grabbed the little girl, I’ve grabbed my girlfriend, just in a pair of boxer shorts and a dressing gown, someone gave me these clothes, and this is it and now we are here.”
Here’s the full text of a statement from the prime minister:
I have just received the latest update on the appalling tragedy at Grenfell Tower. Twelve people have been confirmed dead in this terrible fire that has taken place, and sadly, the police expect that number to rise further.
My thoughts are with the victims, their families and all of those who had their homes destroyed. It’s impossible to comprehend the horror of what they’ve been going through.
The response of people living nearby, who have provided help, compassion and support has I think, once again, shown the fantastic spirit of London.
Earlier today, I ordered a cross-government meeting to ensure that every assistance was being given to manage the emergency service response, and that group will meet again tomorrow.
Once again, our emergency services – the fire service, ambulance, NHS and police – have shown incredible bravery, working in truly appalling conditions.
Their work will continue for some time, and I know everybody will want to join me in thanking them for their amazing bravery.
Many people will be working around the clock in the NHS to treat those who have been injured, and working elsewhere to provide help and support to those who have no home to return to.
Of course, once the scene is secure, once the recovery is complete, then an investigation will take place into the cause of the fire and if there are any lessons to be learned.
Until then, our focus must be on ensuring that the emergency services have what they need to continue with their harrowing work, and that help and support is being provided to all those who have suffered as a result of this tragedy.