Sunday 23 July 2017

Action groups say warnings over safety concerns at inferno tower block 'fell on deaf ears'

Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Alexander Britton

An action group at a west London tower block ravaged by a deadly fire has said its warnings fell on "deaf ears" after it highlighted safety concerns.

The cause of the blaze at Grenfell Tower, north Kensington, is not known, but a blog post from Grenfell Action Group in November said "only a catastrophic event" would expose the issues.

Several hundred people are thought to have been in the block when the fire was reported at 1.15am on Wednesday, and London Fire Brigade confirmed there had been a "number of fatalities".

The group said there was only one entry and exit to the tower during improvement works at the block in Latimer Road and it had issues with evacuation procedures.

After the fire, the group posted: "All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time."

The group claimed access to the building was "severely restricted" for emergency services and other vehicles and that residents were advised to stay in their flats in case of fire.

The tower block was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.7 million, with work completed in May last year.

The exterior of the 1970s-built tower was modernised with cladding and replacement windows, while additional homes were added using vacant space in the building.

On its website, Rydon Construction said: "Externally, rain screen cladding, curtain wall facade and replacement windows were fitted, improving thermal insulation and modernising the exterior of the building."

The construction company released a statement to Sky News on Wednesday afternoon.

"We are shocked to hear of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower and our immediate thoughts are with those that have been affected by the incident, their families, relatives and friends".

"Rydon completed a refurbishment of the building in the summer of 2016 for KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) on behalf of the Council, which met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards.  We will cooperate with the relevant authorities and emergency services and fully support their enquiries into the causes of this fire at the appropriate time.

"Given the ongoing nature of the incident and the tragic events overnight, it would be inappropriate for us to speculate or comment further at this stage."

Earlier, a resident of the 17th floor of the block, identified as Methrob, told LBC Radio the "real issue was when it caught fire to the cladding outside".

Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A police officer holds a riot shield over a firefighter at a tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Local resident Amanda Fernandez stands outside St Clement and St James Church, close to the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London which is on fire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Helen William/PA Wire
Student Tiago Etienne, 17, who witnessed scenes after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Helen William/PA Wire
A firefighter photographs damage after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower
Emergency services gather close to the scene after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
Emergency services close to the scene after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
Emergency services close to the scene after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
Emergency services close to the scene after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
A firefighter investigates a floor after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PA
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
A man arrives with refreshments near a tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A man hands out refreshments near a tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A firefighter investigates a floor after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. (PA)
Turafat Yilma who was forced to flee burning Grenfell Tower with her young child has claimed their warnings that a refurbishment posed safety risks were ignored. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. Yilma, a 39-year-old resident on the building's seventh floor, was awoken by a call from her neighbour on the 17th floor telling her to escape. See PA story FIRE Grenfell Mother. Photo credit should read: Jack Hardy/PA Wire
A firefighter investigates a floor after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
A firefighter investigates a floor after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PA
A firefighter investigates a floor after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
A woman reacts near a tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
People react near a tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
People react near a tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Firefighters direct jets of water onto a tower block severely damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Denise Bloomfield, 37, who was evacuated from a nearby flat, after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PA Wire
Local resident Georgina stands distraught on her balcony after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PA Wire
Yaz (no surname given) who is awaiting news of her friend who was caught up in a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Smoke billows from a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
A local resident is carried to receive some medical aid at a community centre close to a fire that has engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Debris on the ground from a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Debris on the ground from a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
A relief fund set up by local residents for those caught up in a fire that engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire
Firefighters rest as they take a break in battling a massive fire that raged in a 27-floor high-rise apartment building in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Fire swept through a high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday, killing an unknown number of people and sending more than 50 people to area hospitals. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Firefighters stand amid debris in a childrens playground near a tower block severly damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
People look at smoke billowing from a tower block severly damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Two women sit on the grass after a tower block was severly damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
A woman speaks on a mobile phone near a tower block that was severly damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Emergency services gather close to the scene after a fire engulfed the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in west London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 14, 2017. More than 200 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze and London Ambulance Service said 30 people had been taken to five hospitals. See PA story FIRE Grenfell. Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
A youth looks at smoke billowing from a tower block severly damaged by a serious fire, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Firefighters wait to start their shift after a massive fire raged in a 27-floor high-rise apartment building in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. London's Metropolitan Police said a number of people were being treated for a range of injuries, but did not provide more specifics. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter that a major incident had been declared. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Firefighters wait to start their shift after a massive fire raged in a 27-floor high-rise apartment building in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. London's Metropolitan Police said a number of people were being treated for a range of injuries, but did not provide more specifics. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter that a major incident had been declared. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Smoke billows as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A person, bottom right, peers out of a window from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A helicopter and an airplane are seen as flames and smoke billow while firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A helicopter is seen as flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A helicopter is seen as flames and smoke billow while firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A helicopter and an airplane are seen as flames and smoke billow while firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A helicopter is seen as flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A helicopter is seen as flames and smoke billow while firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Firefighters tackle a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Smoke billows as firefighters tackle a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Smoke and flames billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
Firefighters tackle a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Smoke and flames billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
An airplane is seen as flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Fames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A helicopter is seen as flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
Smoke billows as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
A helicopter is seen as flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville
An airplane is seen as flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

He added: "That's when I noticed the fire from outside when I looked out the window.

"By the time that we got downstairs, the fire had gone all the way up and it was just about reaching our windows on the 17th floor.

"The whole one side of the building was on fire. The cladding went up like a matchstick."

Methrob said residents had been concerned about safety, adding there had been warnings "for over a year".

He said one man was "trying to get everyone to get together to do something before it was too late".

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said questions will need to be answered over the safety of tower blocks.

Some residents said they had been advised they should stay in their flats in the event of a fire, while the block's residents association had previously warned it was worried about the risk of a serious fire.

"These questions are really important questions that need to be answered," Khan told BBC Radio.

"Across London we have many, many tower blocks and what we can't have is a situation where people's safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained."

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