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Andrew of Ware 14 June 2017 10:38 AM

London Tower Block Fire
 
A 27-storey block of flats in London has caught fire. 'Several dead'. At least fifty people in hospital. People jumping from flats. People saying 'it's like a horror film'. One report said a man caught a baby thrown from the block. One person had to step over a dead body as she escaped. Many harrowing stories. It just sounds dreadful. At least 40 fire engines at the scene. Lifts not working and there was only one fire escape - and that was on fire, said one resident. It was like 9/11 said another. The fire alarms did not work, said someone else. 'It went up like a Christmas tree', said yet another. Stories of horror and heroism emerging.

Updates here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/live/uk-en...ondon-40239008

DawnStorm 14 June 2017 12:21 PM

I heard about this on the news this morning. Apparently people had been complaining about the building conditions for years. Guess there's slum lords on both sides of the ocean.
I really think Londoners--and all of England--have been through enough lately. :(

Richard W 14 June 2017 04:01 PM

Yes, this was from a resident's committee last year, about this very block:

https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpres...ing-with-fire/

(Written after the refurbishment that's referred to in the Guardian article that it's linked from):

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...idents-in-2012

WildaBeast 14 June 2017 10:33 PM

I'm curious how the fire was able to apparently spread so quickly. A massive blaze like that might have been par for the course 100 years ago, but modern building codes are supposed to prevent exactly this sort of thing.

Andrew of Ware 14 June 2017 11:23 PM

Questions are already being asked about the refurbishment last year. Cladding was placed on the outside, but residents were complaining about the gap between the cladding and the wall. One fire safety expert said tonight that this gap could have acted like a funnel helping to spread the flames from the fourth residential floor right up to the top floor.

There were 24 residential floors in total and 120 flats in total. There might have been, said police, up to 600 people in the block at the time. Even as the flames spread people in the block were being told to stay in their flats as their front doors would hold back the flames. One man says how he ignored the advice and escaped with his family. If he had stayed put all would have died.

I am dreading the news tomorrow and the coming days as firefighters begin searching the shell of the block. The photographs and video footage on television tonight made for horrific viewing. Some shocking photographs adorn the front pages of tomorrow's papers.

Richard W 15 June 2017 12:02 AM

Yes, I suspect the death toll is going to be rather higher than 12 when they've worked it out...

RichardM 15 June 2017 12:36 AM

Here is a grossly simplified explanation of how this fire could have spread: (Please note that although I am a certified fire and explosion investigator, I have no direct knowledge of this fire. All this is speculation)

The fire starts in one unit, apparently on the 4th floor. That fire becomes intense because of the apparent lack of sprinklers. The fire breaks the windows. The flames impinge on the windows directly above. Those break and involve that apartment. The fire also may burn through walls horizontally because of unplanned openings for piping or whatever. Substandard wall construction could also contribute to the horizontal spread of the fire.

My thoughts go out to the people impacted. I am very glad that area churches, including a mosque, are helping those displaced by the fire.

crocoduck_hunter 15 June 2017 01:02 AM

So regarding the buildings' owners: is this negligent homicide or merely manslaughter?

Psihala 15 June 2017 01:05 AM

It's a bit soon to try and make that sort of determination, isn't it?

~Psihala

crocoduck_hunter 15 June 2017 02:19 AM

Maybe, but somebody had better end up doing time over this.

Richard W 15 June 2017 11:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RichardM (Post 1951657)
The fire starts in one unit, apparently on the 4th floor. That fire becomes intense because of the apparent lack of sprinklers. The fire breaks the windows. The flames impinge on the windows directly above. Those break and involve that apartment.

It seems they think the cladding on the outside caught fire (or material behind the cladding) and the gap acted as a chimney, so once the fire had broken out of the first apartment it would have gone straight up the outside without needing to break into each apartment one-at-a-time like that. But as you say, no doubt more will become clear over time.

DawnStorm 15 June 2017 12:16 PM

Lack of sprinklers?! :eek:

Those poor people!

Seaboe Muffinchucker 15 June 2017 03:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter (Post 1951662)
Maybe, but somebody had better end up doing time over this.

Really? And if the person who is determined to have been at fault is dead, do you think they should send a scapegoat to jail?

Seaboe

Lainie 15 June 2017 04:51 PM

From what I've read, it seems unlikely the person(s) responsible for the unsafe conditions were ever at risk from the fire. They might be dead of some other cause, of course.

Sultana of Beetroot 15 June 2017 06:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Seaboe Muffinchucker (Post 1951691)
Really? And if the person who is determined to have been at fault is dead, do you think they should send a scapegoat to jail?

Seaboe

I think c_h is referring to the person who was negligent about building materials rather than the person whose faulty fridge (or whatever) actually started the fire.

Andrew of Ware 15 June 2017 06:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RichardM (Post 1951657)
Here is a grossly simplified explanation of how this fire could have spread: (Please note that although I am a certified fire and explosion investigator, I have no direct knowledge of this fire. All this is speculation)

The fire starts in one unit, apparently on the 4th floor. That fire becomes intense because of the apparent lack of sprinklers. The fire breaks the windows. The flames impinge on the windows directly above. Those break and involve that apartment. The fire also may burn through walls horizontally because of unplanned openings for piping or whatever. Substandard wall construction could also contribute to the horizontal spread of the fire.

My thoughts go out to the people impacted. I am very glad that area churches, including a mosque, are helping those displaced by the fire.

Accusations at the moment concern the cladding. Was it made of the correct material or was it sub-standard in quality? During the refurbishment last year the local residents' association was constantly complaining of the quality of the work being carried out. One of the officers of the association even had people from the building company knocking on his door and making threats. I have heard that the sprinklers in the block were removed at this time.

Just a point about the fourth floor where the fire is thought to have started (possibly by a fridge exploding (?)). This is the fourth residential floor. The ground floor is, or was, a reception and facilities area. Then came about four floors of offices and community space. Thus the first residential floor was actually the fifth floor and the fourth residential floor was the eighth floor of the block.

When they did the work the company who did the cladding were in administration (this means they were bankrupt and were looking for a buyer). I read a report that they have now been liquidated (i.e. they're kaput).

Seaboe Muffinchucker 15 June 2017 07:11 PM

Thanks to Andrew's post, this makes more sense. I was thinking that it was the cladding that had been applied when the building was originally built, and the possibility that the architect (or whoever chose the cladding and the installation) may no longer be around. In which case calling for his imprisonment would be futile.

Seaboe

crocoduck_hunter 15 June 2017 08:41 PM

No, I'm calling for the imprisonment of whomever owned the building and was responsible for keeping it up to fire code, since numerous reports are citing claims that the building had years of complaints about failing to meet minimum fire safety requirements.

Richard W 15 June 2017 09:12 PM

Another issue is that the contractor who did the cladding says that it did meet the codes it needed to. That may or may not be the case, but either way, the fire regulations are obviously too weak at the moment.

The lack of sprinklers wasn't against the fire regulations, for example. It would have been in a newly-built block, but in a block that age, there was no obligation to fit sprinklers when it was built, and no obligation to retrofit them. (I've not heard about Andrew's rumour that there were sprinklers at one time, but they were removed, though. From what I've read, there were never sprinklers, and that wasn't against the fire regulations.)

(eta) To make one of these political statements that we're apparently not supposed to make after tragedies with political elements, but which people seem to be increasingly making anyway because they've realised that it's a rather self-serving condition on the part of those who might be able to do something about stuff but don't want to, people have been pointing out that Labour (under Corbyn) put forward a proposal to ensure that private accommodation was kept up to a habitable standard, and which might have done something about this situation, last year but it was blocked by the Conservatives, many of whom are also private landlords:

http://www.thelondoneconomic.com/new...ejected/14/06/

WildaBeast 15 June 2017 09:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Richard W (Post 1951748)
Another issue is that the contractor who did the cladding says that it did meet the codes it needed to. That may or may not be the case, but either way, the fire regulations are obviously too weak at the moment.

That was something I was wondering and almost brought up in my previous post -- is the problem that the owner failed to keep the building up to code, or is the problem that the current fire codes are inadequate? I'm reminded of Swissair 111, where one of the factors contributing to the crash was the fact that the insulation used in the plane was thought to be fire resistant and met the standards of the time, but was actually quite flammable. As it turned out, the test that was used at the time was not sufficient to determine the material's flammability.


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