For over 8 hours, a residential tower in west London has been on fire, 50 people are reported as injured, some are fearing deaths. Scores of homes have been destroyed beyond repair.
Much of the building is totally gutted after hours of ranging fire although the buildings concrete and steel frame continues to stand as is the case in virtually all such infernos.
While the proximate cause of the flame is being debated with everything from an electrical fire to arson cited as a possible cause, what is becoming clear is that the situation in the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, a poor section of an otherwise extremely wealthy part of town, is due to negligence from both private and public sectors.
The area where the tower stands, North Kensington, has long been an isolated area of poverty which stands only a short walk from streets where a modest two bedroom house costs well over £1 million, in some cases well over £3 million.
Many in the local government have been desirous to evict the poor from North Kensington in order to ‘re-develop’ the area so as to attract the kind of affluent money, including from the Gulf which has seen even relatively well-off locals totally priced out of their own area.
Residents of the now gutted tower along with those living in nearby buildings started the Greenfell Action Group to protest local plans to redevelop green-spaces into bulky buildings as well as to protect people living in council housing/housing projects from losing their homes.
The group warned of the neglect that a private company hired by the local government to manage the building had wrought upon locals. The company called Kensington And Chelsea TMO stood accused of failing to clear potential flammable rubbish from corridors of the building for years. One report on the poor fire safety in the buildings dates back to 2013.
The result has been this:
Police should also inspect whether arson could have played a role. In many countries, when developers cannot obtain permits to ‘re-develop’ buildings they resort to arson in order to clear the old building out of their way.
This is a very frightening occurrence that is becoming all too common. Such a scenario must be investigated in respect of the gutted west London tower.