No one would have died in the Grenfell Tower fire if the building had not been refurbished with “unsafe” material, a leaked report into last year’s tragedy has claimed.
More than 70 people are confirmed to have died when fire ripped through the multi-storey building last summer, but the report suggests that – had it happened before the refurbishment – it could have been contained within the individual flat in which it started.
The report, seen by the Evening Standard, is anticipated to help the Metropolitan Police with their investigations into the deaths.
It details the introduction of new materials incapable of providing resistance to fire (including new foam insulation), and notes how “a direct route for fire spread around the window frame into the cavity of the façade”.
As a specialist architect shown the report told the paper, “The question is: could this fire have been avoided? This damning report is saying it absolutely could have been and that the refurb was to blame”.
The findings follow horribly prescient blog posts from residents last year, which claimed a “major fire disaster” was only “narrowly averted” in 2013.
The leaked report, as relayed by the Standard, cites cavity barriers being too small to prevent a “chimney-like” effect in the event of fire spreading between the building and the cladding.
Produced by fire investigation experts BRE Global, the report also details how defective door closers on a number of flats in the building may have accelerated the spread of the fire.
In the aftermath of the fire, it emerged that similar cladding to that installed at Grenfell earlier this decade was also present on as many as 600 other high-rise buildings around the UK.
Among the key claims made in the 210-page report are:
- The original façade of the tower (ie. from before its refurbishment) would likely not have allowed the fire to spread beyond the apartment in which it started
- Breaches of building regulations may have played a part in the spread of the fire, thus appearing to contribute directly to the loss of life – these include the aforementioned gaps between the concrete and the cladding, as well as window frames “significantly narrower than the gap between the concrete surfaces of the columns” and those gaps being filled by materials which fuelled, rather than resisting, the fire
- Other factors include the aforementioned door-closer issue and the lack of a sprinkler system, as well as what has been described as a “flammable core” to the building’s façade.
Despite claims from Prime Minister Theresa May that those left homeless by the tragedy would be rehoused in a matter of weeks, many were still waiting for new permanent homes six months after losing their homes.
It remains to be seen how long the process of apportioning causes for the fire and deciding the consequences for those responsible will take.