High-rise fires still a major worry two years after Grenfell tragedy

Updated June 15, 2019

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London: Doves are being released after a service of remembrance for the Grenfell Tower fire at St Helen’s Church on Friday.—AFP
London: Doves are being released after a service of remembrance for the Grenfell Tower fire at St Helen’s Church on Friday.—AFP

LONDON: Two years after a tower block fire in London killed 72 people, safety experts warned that hundreds of apartment buildings around Britain remain at risk of a similar devastating blaze.

Survivors, neighbours and politicians including London Mayor Sadiq Khan attended a church service of remembrance on Friday for the Grenfell Tower blaze, the deadliest fire on British soil since World War II.

Anger is still raw in the west London neighbourhood, where the public housing tower stands covered in white sheeting, a green heart and the words “Grenfell forever in our hearts” emblazoned at the top.

Many at the service wore scarves of bright green, which has become a colour of remembrance for the fire. The congregation murmured agreement as Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin called the fire a “national shame.” “Grenfell happened because we failed to love our neighbours,” he said.

Doves were released outside St. Helen’s Church, close to Grenfell, and mourners left floral wreaths at the base of the 24-story tower.

The blaze began in an apartment kitchen and ripped through the tower in the early hours of June 14, 2017. Investigators found that the building’s flammable aluminum and polyethylene cladding helped the fire race out of control. A public inquiry and is still underway looking, among other things, at the role of the combustible cladding and police are considering criminal charges.

Published in Dawn, June 15th, 2019