Mayor demands Kensington fire answers – reports of no fire alarms and residents told to ‘stay inside’
London mayor Sadiq Khan says ‘questions will need to be answered’ after a horroric Kensingson fire engulfed a 24-storey residential block, claiming ‘a number’ of lives.
London Fire Brigade have confirmed a ‘number of fatalities’ and admitted people were still trapped inside the burning building as a result of the Kensington fire.
More than 200 firefighters are on the scene but have only been as high as the 19th floor of the block.
Eyewitnesses report hearing screams of those inside and seeing people jumping from upper floors and mothers holding their children out of windows to keep them away from smoke.
More than 50 people have been hospitalised according to the London Ambulance Service.
In light of the Kensington fire a number of residents claim they were told to stay inside their flats and others report they were no fire alarms.
A newsletter sent to residents in 2014 encouraged a ‘stay put’ policy in the event of an emergency, because the block – which has been recently refurbished at a cost of £9 million – had been designed according to “rigorous fire safety standards”.
Signage in the building also advised ‘you should initially be safe to stay in your flat keeping doors and windows closed’.
“Thankfully residents didn’t take that advice but fled… these are some of the questions that have to be answered,” Mr Khan told BBC Radio 4.
“We have lots of people in London living in tower blocks… We can’t have peoples lives being put at risk because of bad advice or lack of maintenance.”
He later added on Sky News: “Some legitimate and reasonable questions are being asked and they deserve answers.”
A local action group have claimed the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower could have been prevented had their concerns about safety been listened to.
Grenfell Action Group have been raising concerns about the 27-storey Grenfell Tower block for the past four years.
In 2013 they claimed that residents had woken to smoke issuing from various electrical appliances in their homes, including the light fixtures.
In a series of blog posts they chronicle their concerns about healthy and safety in the block, which is owned by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and managed on their behalf by Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation.
They have repeatedly claimed the recently refurbished Grenfell Tower, which is home to hundreds of people in 150 units, would not be able to cope with a major incident.
“All our warnings fell on deaf ear and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time,” wrote the group in a post on their website.
London Fire Brigade Dany Cotton confirmed the scale of the incident was unprecedented in her 29 year experience as a firefighter. She confirmed a number of fatalities, while London Ambulance Service said over 50 people have been taken to hospital.
Nick Paget-Brown, the leader of the council, refused to be drawn on the cause of the fire, saying his immediate priority was looking after those affected by the blaze.
“It’s clearly an absolutely devastating fire and the emergency services and council support offices have been here for a number of hours trying to establish if they are people still in the building,” said councillor Nick Paget-Brown.
“We’ve set up emergency centres nearby, where people have been evacuated too and we are doing as much as we can for them.”
To keep up to date with the Kensington fire, follow us on Twitter @SW_Londoner.