An action group at a west London tower block ravaged by fire have said their warnings fell on “deaf ears” after highlighting safety concerns about the block.
The cause of Wednesday’s blaze at the Grenfell tower, north Kensington, is not known, but a blog post from the Grenfell Action Group from November 2016 said “only a catastrophic event” would expose issues residents had.
Several hundred people would have been in the block when the fire was reported at 12.54am, while 30 have been taken to hospital. It’s unknown yet how many people have been killed in the blaze.
The group said there was one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during improvement works at the block in Latimer Road and it had issues with evacuation procedures at the building.
Following the fire, the group posted: “All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”
The group claimed access to the building was “severely restricted” for emergency services and other vehicles and that residents were advised to stay in their flats in case of fire.
The tower block was recently refurbished at a cost of STG8.7 million ($A14.7 million), with work completed in May last year.
The exterior of the 1970s-built tower was “modernised” with cladding and replacement windows, while additional homes were added using vacant space in the building, according to Rydon Construction.
On its website, Rydon Construction said: “Externally, rain screen cladding, curtain wall facade and replacement windows were fitted, improving thermal insulation and modernising the exterior of the building.”
But a resident of the 17th floor of the block, identified as Methrob, told LBC Radio that the “real issue was when it caught fire to the cladding outside”.
“That’s when I noticed the fire from outside when I looked out the window.
“By the time that we got downstairs, the fire had gone all the way up and it was just about reaching our windows on the 17th floor.
“The whole one side of the building was on fire. The cladding went up like a matchstick.”
Methrob said residents had been concerned about safety, adding there had been warnings “for over a year”.
Feature image: Twitter/Natalie_Oxford