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London. The Grenfell Tower fire broke out six years ago – how many people died is known

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Six years have passed since the fire in London’s 24-storey Grenfell Tower residential skyscraper, which broke out on the night of June 13/14, 2017. Its direct cause was a short circuit in the refrigerator on the fourth floor. The fire spread through the window to the façade of the building covered with a flammable substance and quickly occupied all its floors. 72 people died, 74 were injured.

The first call to the fire at Grenfell Tower was received by firefighters at exactly 0.54. It was Behailu Kebede, a resident of one of the premises on the fourth floor. The refrigerator in his kitchen caught fire, and the fire alarm woke him up. The man led the two women who lived with him out of the building and warned the neighbors. Then he went outside himself. A few minutes after 1 at Kebede’s apartment, the first firefighters appeared. The recording made available later by the services shows that they entered the kitchen only after seven minutes of checking other rooms. They dealt with the refrigerator fire itself quickly. However, the fire had already managed to get through the window onto the facade of the building.

The Grenfell Tower fire in LondonPA Wire/Natalie Oxford/PAP/EPA

After that, the flames spread very quickly. As the BBC emphasized in one of the articles about the fire, recordings made in front of the building indicate that at At 1.26, which is less than half an hour after the arrival of firefighters on the spot, the fire had already reached the last, twenty-fourth floor. At that time, it covered only the eastern wall of the skyscraper, but within a dozen or so minutes it made its way to the northern wall, and a moment later also to the southern one. The flames also got inside. Between At 1.30 they appeared in the stairwell.

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A report available on the Grenfell Tower Inquiry website, a public inquiry into the fire, shows that between 1.18 and 1.38 firefighters led 110 people out of the building. Within the next 20 minutes, they managed to evacuate 20 residents. Most of those who at approx. 2.00 they stayed inside, did not survive. Later, only 48 people managed to get out. Mainly those who were on the lower floors when the fire broke out. The last person out of the building was escorted at 6.07.

The fire on the upper floors of Grenfell Tower was brought under control by firefighters on the night of 15/16 June. In a statement released on June 16, the fire department said parts of the building were still burning. The fire was completely extinguished only in the evening of that day. A total of 40 fire brigades were dispatched to the site of the tragedy, and about 200 firefighters fought the fire.

Grenfell Tower after the fireShutterstock

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Grenfell Tower fire. How many people died?

The final balance of victims was presented by the authorities only in November 2017, five months after the tragedy. 72 people died in the fire and 74 were injured. The youngest of the victims, Leena Belkadi, was only six months old, the oldest, identified as Sheila from the sixteenth floor, was 84. Also included in the balance sheet is the Gomes family baby, who was stillborn in the hospital on the morning of June 14. His pregnant mother was one of those evacuated from the building.

Grenfell Tower was mainly inhabited by ethnic minorities, including many Muslims. It was Ramadan on the day of the fire, so most of the Muslims in the building, despite the late hour, were eating their traditional pre-dawn meal. Thanks to this, they were able to quickly get out of their apartments and alert the neighbors.

At the same time, reports from the services show that many residents of the building knowingly remained inside long after the fire broke out. They followed the instructions of the dispatchers, who told the residents of the block who called 999, also on the upper floors, to wait for the arrival of services in their premises. Skyscrapers should be designed in such a way that fire does not spread between successive floors. It is therefore generally safer for residents to stay inside while firefighters put out the fire than if they had to force their way through fire and smoke or jump out of windows. However, Grenfell Tower was designed differently, and incorrect instructions by dispatchers may have contributed to the deaths of many people, the services admitted.

Grenfell Tower after the firedominika zara / Shutterstock

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London. The cause of the Grenfell Tower fire

In 2019, the London Fire Brigade published a report which confirmed that the direct cause of the fire was an electrical short in the refrigerator. In the report firefighters performance was negatively assessed. It was also explained that the rapid spread of the fire was undoubtedly caused by the insulating cladding covering its façade, made of an insulating material called polyisocyanurate. The material was withdrawn from sale as a result of the fire.

Back in June 2017, the British government ordered an inspection of the facades of residential buildings across the country. It was found that 149 skyscrapers do not meet fire protection standards because their facades are covered with flammable material. At the end of the month, the decision of the authorities of the London district of Camden, which carried out a preventive evacuation of 800 apartments in blocks of flats that do not meet safety standards.

The official investigation into the tragedy ended in November 2022. The final report of the investigation’s findings is due to be made public next year, The Independent reported in May. Two years ago, the BBC reported that panels from which the facade of Grenfell Tower was made did not pass fire tests in 2004. So far, no one has been charged in connection with the fire.

The skyscraper has still not been demolished, although experts point out that the structure is in danger of collapsing. Since May 2018, the burnt façade has been covered with scaffolding and protective foil.

Grenfell Tower covered with foilJessicaGirvan/Shutterstock

SEE ALSO: He lost five grandchildren, four daughters and three sons-in-law in the disaster. “I can’t describe the pain”

BBC, grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk, “The Independent”, PAP, tvn24.pl

Main photo source: PA Wire/Natalie Oxford/PAP/EPA

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