London: Outrage Grows over Fire at Public Housing Building as Death Toll Rises to 30

HeadlineJun 16, 2017
H05 uk fire

In London, outrage over the deadly fire at a 24-story public housing building earlier this week is mounting, as the death toll continues to rise.

The fire at the 24-story Grenfell Tower apartment building in West London killed at least 30 residents. As many as 70 residents are still missing, meaning the death toll could eventually top 100. The first of the fire’s victims to be named is Mohammed Alhajali, a 23-year-old Syrian refugee.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has proposed “requisitioning” vacant luxury apartment buildings in order to house those who have been made homeless by the massive fire. Residents are demanding answers about why their safety concerns were routinely ignored ahead of the deadly blaze. The building underwent a recent renovation that residents say was dangerously shoddy. This is Pilgrim Tucker of the Grenfell Action Group.

Pilgrim Tucker: “The standard of works was really, really shoddy and really, really poor—boilers in front of front doors, pipeworks sticking out inches outside of the walls. There were power surges that weren’t looked into, where the lights in the building went dead. In the fire, the emergency lighting didn’t come on. And these residents asked again and again and again, and they were threatened with legal action. They tried to get lawyers, but because of the legal aid cuts, they couldn’t get lawyers.”

The residents, who are mostly low-income, say the renovation was largely aimed at making aesthetic improvements to the exterior of the building in order to make it blend in with the new luxury high-rises in the rapidly gentrifying West London neighborhood. New revelations suggest that the shiny exterior paneling installed during the renovation was highly flammable and is responsible for accelerating the fire. This is one of the building’s residents.

Resident: “Ten million pounds, they’re talking about, and put these shoddy plastic things on there that set up alight, because they want more reasons to knock these blocks down.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a full public investigation into the fire.

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