Britain

We may never know what actually started Grenfell Tower fire

We may never know what actually started Grenfell Tower fire

Grenfell Tower as it looks today, covered by scaffolding almost a year on from the deadly fire (Picture: AP)

There is insufficient evidence that a Hotpoint fridge-freezer caused the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 71 people, according to official reports.

However, experts have said they are confident that the deadly blaze started in the kitchen of flat 16 on level floor of the tower block.

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The reports were made public at the opening of a judge-led inquiry about the fire, which began on Monday morning.

It will put the cause of the blaze, the response of local authorities and high rise building regulations under the microscope.

The inquiry, which is expected to last about 18 months, is aimed at preventing future tragedies by recognising how the disaster happened.

A protest takes place at Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall, following the fire of the Grenfell Tower block, London on June 16, 2017. Protesters gathered outside Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall, to demand justice for those affected by the fire that gutted Grenfell Tower. Emergency workers continued searching for bodies, warning they may never be able to identify some of the victims. (Photo by Alberto Pezzali/NurPhoto) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***

Protests have been held regularly since the blaze that killed 71 people (Picture: PA)

Dr Barbara Lane, an expert commissioned by the inquiry to analyse the blaze, said the Reynobond 55PE rainscreen cladding contributed to the most rapid of the external fire spread.

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She also wrote that the cavities that should have prevented flames spreading between floors were installed incorrectly on both horizontal and vertical levels.

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Meanwhile, no evidence was found that some of the key bodies involved in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower understood how the new cladding system would behave in a fire.

Dr Lane said: I have found no evidence yet that any member of the design team or the construction ascertained the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding system materials, nor understood how the assembly performed in fire.

I have found no evidence that Building Control were either informed or understood how the assembly would perform in a fire.

We may never know what actually started Grenfell Tower fire

The public inquiry is expected to last 18 months and hopes to determine what happened (Picture: Barcroft)

Further I have found no evidence that the (Tenant Management Organisation) risk assessment recorded the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding system, nor have I found evidence that the LFB risk assessment recorded the fire performance of the rainscreen cladding.

The buildings cladding was such a risk of aiding the spread of flames that the fire brigades stay put advice was not supported, the report said.

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In his opening remarks, Richard Millett QC, counsel to the inquiry, said: The fundamental question which lies at the heart of our work is how, in London in 2017, a domestic fire developed so quickly and so catastrophically that an entire high rise block was engulfed, and how it was that 71 people lost their lives in a matter of hours, leaving family and friends in shock, grief and bewilderment.

Mr Millett said the probe was the largest public inquiry ever established in terms of numbers of participants – including 533 people and 29 organisations.

He said the inquiry must proceed quickly in light of the obvious risk to public safety posed by exterior fires on residential tower blocks.

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Police say they are considering individual or corporate manslaughter charges in the blaze, but no one has yet been charged.

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Grenfell United, a group representing survivors and bereaved families, said the inquiry was the beginning of a long road to justice.

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The group, which accuses local authorities and the government of failing to heed safety warnings, said: The scale of the tragedy has devastated our lives and our community.

What makes it even worse for us is the knowledge that these deaths were completely avoidable.

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