June 16, 2017

"I rang the fire service and they told me to get out.... But I opened the door and the smoke was so thick I couldn't. I tried to leave the flat three times..."

"... and each time the smoke was too thick. I started to panic. I began banging on the window shouting: 'Help me, help me, I'm stuck!' I tried to open the window but I burnt my hand on the melted plastic. I could see police outside and people just standing there. It felt like they were just watching me. Then I realised if I don't go I would die here. I wrapped a wet jumper around myself and ran out of the door... I was tripping over bodies. On one of the floors I tripped badly and fell, as I looked up I saw the face of a dead man.... As I got to the third or fourth floor I was choking and couldn't breathe. I started to feel faint. I collapsed and that's when I felt a firefighter grab me...."

Escaping from the 15th floor of Grenfell Tower.

55 comments:

David Baker said...

Still difficult to believe; no sprinklers, no fire-escapes, no nothin'.

How does one rationalize living in such a building without so much as a rope, even a parachute.

traditionalguy said...

I guess fire suppression sprinklers need to be invented for the high rise building codes.

Bad Lieutenant said...

The cheese stands alone. What can one add? Except to seek lessons to increase fire safety...and find and punish any who made/let this happen.

If Styrofoam cladding is the culprit, lemme tell ya, there's LOTS of that stuff around.

Probably they will learn the worst lessons in the worst way; probably there is misfeasance, malfeasance, corruption and dehumanization at the bottom of it all, which will probably be covered up with scapegoating. Welcome to the human condition.

Bad Lieutenant said...

No sprinklers? WAAT?!

Somebody send them the Triangle Shirtwaist files.

David said...

"How does one rationalize living in such a building without so much as a rope, even a parachute."

How does a government rationalize housing people in such a building?

traditionalguy said...

After the Weincoff Hotel fire in Atlanta in 1947, all buildings had to have fire sprinklers installed. Otherwise the guests had two choices when a fire starts: jump to your death or burn alive. That is 70 year old wisdom and knowledge.

So let's start us a Nationalized Health Care that relies on government bureaucrats' use of wisdom and knowledge for our life and death . We can call it Obama's Revenge.

Bad Lieutenant said...

David, what was it, the Arms Length Housing Office? Why not just the Plausible Deniability Crematory Anteroom?

Bad Lieutenant said...

No, trad, revenge would be housing all government personnel in such buildings.

Ann Althouse said...

How can the UK be so backward?

Tregonsee said...

Perhaps they spent the safety upgrade money on the cladding which was installed to improve insulation to improve Sustainability, blessings be upon it? It has been known for years that this will create a flue effect, intensifying the fire.

MaxedOutMama said...

It is horrible. The belief that a great number of these deaths were avoidable does not improve matters.

I think gas must have been implicated - that fire was fueled. The man whose fridge caught fire alerted his neighbors, so he must have called the fire dept. Supposedly they were there in six minutes. And this still happened. Nightmarish.

Council housing (aka govmt). Owned and run by a government agency. No sprinklers, no good building alarm system, only one stairwell, no fire escapes. A tragedy waiting to happen that did. If there are not proper fire breaks on the internal piping, the fire can climb internally very fast. I'm sure the cladding did not help, but there were other problems.

Angel-Dyne said...

Sprinklers, fire escapes, building codes, reasonably low levels of corruption in permitting, procurement of materials, etc. - what do you think this is, some lah-de-dah First World city?

Oso Negro said...

The man who escaped appears to be very physically fit. He is lucky to live in public housing and use the time that he doesn't have to spend paying for himself at the gym instead.

stlcdr said...

Tower blocks, in the U.K. Are for poor people. Period. Obviously, some people don't have a choice (ha. That's how population is controlled, convince them of no choice).

Growing up, you never wanted to go near the things. They always appeared to be the blueprint for squalor for any given sci-fi futuristic story.

It does sound like and appear that the biggest issue was the cladding, and that smoke was the killer, not the actual fire. I could be wrong. However, what I find mysterious is that there are reports of as many as 100 dead, but 'only' 17 confirmed. I know it's a dangerous situation to send rescuers in, but why is there still speculation at this point? Are the stairwells gone? I'm not a rescuer, and don't pretend to know the mechanics of the situation, but certain humans have a knack of putting themselves in a great deal of harms way to help and rescue people, until every soul has been accounted for.

traditionalguy said...

The UK is a stupid hierarchy that trusts in its faux intellectual government appointees to do all thinking and and acting in all matters. And please don't bother the Queen. She is 100% for spending the country's money on Fairy Tales of Climate Warming that only warms her and her friend's pockets.

As usual , the result was that the on site people's begging with realty warnings and pleas, "fell on deaf ears". They should envy the USA for having Trump's reality level leadership that can listen and do things, like skating rinks etc... but I expect they are still mostly deaf.

wild chicken said...

Not to say good riddance, but those hideous Council flats towers were the ugliest things in London. I assumed they were high rent til I noticed all the junk stored on the patios.

That's what our rulers want for us here. Tower block for thee, trophy home for me.

Owen said...

I heard that a possible source was an exploding refrigerator on a lower floor. Which used for its coolant not that nasty old efficient and incombustible CFCs but the new EU-required green sustainable fluid called "butane." Which is a pretty terrific way to start and feed a fire.

If that proves to be a factor, and if the EU is indeed forcing the use of Pyromaniac Dream Fluid as a refrigerant in home appliances, then never mind the bad cladding and the flue effect and no sprinklers, you are going to see this happening everywhere.

This is quite mad.

alan markus said...

Sprinklers may not have been a requirement when the building was built. In the United States, non-spriklered buildings are not required to be retrofitted.

I suspect that one of the factors in this fire was human nature - seems like the fatalities were due to smoke inhalation. A building like this had fire resistive construction & 2-hour doors to keep the fire contained. A big issue in fires like this is that residents do not think to close the door - instead the door is left open and the entire hallway fills up with smoke. In all the chatter about this fire, there was a reference to a recommendation that door-closers be added to the apartment doors - of course that becomes ineffective once a resident blocks the door open.

gspencer said...

"Council housing (aka govmt). Owned and run by a government agency. No sprinklers, no good building alarm system, only one stairwell, no fire escapes. A tragedy"

And the really good news - everyone involved, being government employees, will have immunity.

Virgil Hilts said...

Smoke is always the big killer (reminds me of Saudi Flight 163_. Sometimes the stuff burning, if it gives off toxic fumes as well, can accelerate knocking people out before they even have this guy's chance of escape. Been readings some of the accounts, but have not read yet whether the burning of the insulation material might have also produced toxic fumes that could have accelerated the incapacitating of the residents.

Greg said...

Seems like a 3fer for the environmental movement. Greenpeace invented cfc free refrigerant explodes, EU directed insulated cladding rapidly propagates the fire, and the enviros get the 3rd out by eliminating a few carbon consumers

Lyle Smith said...

There is nothing backwards about the UK. It costs money and resources to deal with a growing population. Those with less get less. The same is true in the United States.

Paul said...

Folks seem to think 'government' protects them. Sorry but you are on your own.

Live in a high-rise? Either make your own escape system or move out. There ARE such things as rope ladders just made for escaping high-rise fires.

http://www.highriseescapesystems.com/

http://www.fireescape.co.uk/high-rise_fire_escape_systems.php

http://www.globalindustrial.com/p/material-handling/ladders/escape-ladders/saf-escape-2-story-fire-escape-ladder-thick-walls-10-14-inch-d-1615?infoParam.campaignId=WR&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Janitorial%20-%20Ladders%20-%20Shopping&utm_term=1100404861407&utm_content=Janitorial%20-%20Ladders

Don't wait for the government to protect you (cause the won't.)

You are on your own!

DanTheMan said...

>>How can the UK be so backward?

Because the people who make the rules don't live in those kind of buildings.



Lyle Smith said...

Ann,

If you haven't already, check out https://granolashotgun.com/

Lovely man, with a lovely blog. It's about housing and living in America. Lots of hard, not so happy facts of life.

Etienne said...

I am shocked that a building like that could exist in London in the 21st Century.

Michael said...

I am disappointed in so many commenters pointing a finger of blame at the government. Are you not aware of the hundreds of government workers dedicated to ferreting out hate speech on social media and seekin g and finding the hateful and having them jailed. You would take these resources and have them go about looking at council towers?

Titus said...

UK isn't backward and the guy has a hot body. Look at his biceps bulging in his shirt..yum.

Hot chocolate man.

I love a black guy with a british accent-such a contrast. You don't expect him to talk like that and then he does and it is dreamy.

DanTheMan said...

I agree with Michael. Its vitally important that the UK arrest people who insult police horses. Keeping terrorist out and insuring that buildings are safe must clearly wait until after the proles learn Newspeak.

Michael said...

Lyle Smith

Oh, great, you've led me to an addictive blog.very good stuff. My morning is fucked.

madAsHell said...

A jumper? Was it lace?

Known Unknown said...

How can the UK be so backward?

How many people die in heat waves in France in the summer?

tcrosse said...

Theresa May is catching hell for not being emotional enough in her response to the tragedy, although Her Majesty managed a tear or two. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbin wants to requisition the homes of the rich to house the survivors.

Known Unknown said...

A jumper? Was it lace?

Jumpers are sweaters in the UK. Would've been more ironic had she jumped out the window I suppose.

Michael K said...

the burning of the insulation material might have also produced toxic fumes that could have accelerated the incapacitating of the residents.

This is what killed the people in the Cocoanut Grove fire in 1942. It is also what killed a lot of doctors and nurses in the Cleveland Clinic x-ray fire in 1928. An airplane crash landing about 30 years ago created the same phenomenon when the upholstery burned.

This has been known for decades. Almost a century.

The cladding used is the same used for the building in the Dubai high rise fire in 2016 and that was not "council housing."

This is the thinking that our "betters" use to rule us.

Scott Pruit is poking into the mess that was The Gold King Mine disaster.

I hope some people go to prison. He is just the guy to do it.

Now Trump is asking why he is under investigation and Hillary isn't. I don;t think Giuliani is doing anything now. He might be interested.

He has no more conflict of interest than Mueller sdoes.

Greg Hlatky said...

This horror was caused by greedy people not paying enough in taxes to fund the various agencies sufficiently.

Lyle Smith said...

Michael,

You're welcome. Granola Shotgun is awesome.

Unknown said...

Apparently this building was full of Islamic refugees and or Muslims.

So there's lots of suspicion that the fire really started because of either 1) Terrorist homemade bomb not so well home made or 2) Ramadan Muslim using an open flame of some sort.

Supposedly only the presence of security prevented the surviving crowd of Muslims from tearing the London mayor apart limb from limb. I'm sure he would understand; he's a Muslim himself. And as he pointed out.... these high rise building fires are just part of life in a big city, or something like that. We all need to accept them!

--Vance

Unknown said...

The building had millions spent on it in refurbishment recently, so although it was a dumping ground for poor immigrants, it was not in bad shape. However, including that cladding in the refurbishment might not have been a good idea, although that building is far from unique in that respect.

As for sprinklers, retro-fitting them, and thus boring holes in the concrete platforms separating each floor, this would probably make the building less fire resistant. Also, I'm afraid putting fire extinguishers on the landings would be pointless - they would be stolen within days.

rcocean said...

"Live in a high-rise? Either make your own escape system or move out. There ARE such things as rope ladders just made for escaping high-rise fires."

Yeah, they deserved to die for being so stupid. /sarcasm off/


MayBee said...

Sprinklers may not have been a requirement when the building was built. In the United States, non-spriklered buildings are not required to be retrofitted.

Yeah, I was going to say I lived in a non-sprinklered building in Chicago. It was built in the 1920s and it didn't have to be retrofitted. But it did get regular fire inspections, and we had a very loud central alarm that had a speaker in each unit. Fire alarms in each unit. Self-closing front doors. Fire doors in the back. External fire escape. Two stairwells.

The most British thing about the Grenfell fire is to put insulation to save money and energy on the exterior, but perhaps without regard to whether it was flammable or created a gap for fire to travel. There's something very British about having to create discomfort in the name of environmentalism.

MayBee said...

Could the refrigerator have exploded if there was a gas leak? Perhaps it came on and ignited in a gas-filled kitchen?

Fred Drinkwater said...

Another thumbs up for granolashotgun

MayBee said...

live in a high-rise? Either make your own escape system or move out. There ARE such things as rope ladders just made for escaping high-rise fires.
Considering the fire was blazing on the outside of the building, this doesn't seem like a good option for the Grenfell residents.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

A disaster in government owned housing.

Recently updated to meet sustainability targets.

Corbyn wants more government owned housing. Gak!

Jason said...

I bought some really nice trousers in Camden.

Jason said...

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1801571

If only we could have known there was a problem with polyurethane filling in aluminum composite material cladding.

Fen said...

But they are backward. And it's more than just tbeir dental care. Lots of good sitcoms and murder mysteries. But if look past that at the sets, you see a country 10-20 years behind our standard of living.

Jason said...

https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2014/08/why-britain-is-poorer-than-any-us-state-other-than-mississippi/

If the UK were to become America's 51st state, it would be the 2nd poorest state in the country.

Jason said...

It seems to be vastly underreported: This was GOVERNMENT housing. This building was owned and operated by the borough counsillors of Kensington-Chelsea, one of the richest parts of the UK. This was the Walter Reed of housing facilities.

The tenants union had made multiple attempts to get the counsillors and their contracted property manager to take action to improve fire safety. The counsillors responded by threatening to sue them to force them to take down their blog complaining about the shortcomings.

This is all a government failure, but the Left is trying to gin this up as a story of corporate manslaughter and deregulation. It's a filthy lie.

Scott said...

I wonder if Grenfell Tower was named for Joyce Grenfell, the British comedienne.

Scott said...

Jason said...

It seems to be vastly underreported: This was GOVERNMENT housing. This building was owned and operated by the borough counsillors of Kensington-Chelsea, one of the richest parts of the UK. This was the Walter Reed of housing facilities.

The tenants union had made multiple attempts to get the counsillors and their contracted property manager to take action to improve fire safety. The counsillors responded by threatening to sue them to force them to take down their blog complaining about the shortcomings.

This is all a government failure, but the Left is trying to gin this up as a story of corporate manslaughter and deregulation. It's a filthy lie.


Oh, it gets even better for the government body that owned the tower.

http://www.itv.com/news/2017-06-16/grieving-residents-delivered-warning-letter-day-after-grenfell-towers-fire/

Talk about adding insult to injury.

cyrus83 said...

The thing that struck me most about this was the advice offered to some residents to remain in place before the fire turned into the raging inferno it did. I can see this advice being offered as a last resort if the way out is blocked, but not being the first choice of action.

That building codes even in the 1970s in London only required one stairway in a tower of this size is also pretty incredible. I can possibly see a sprinkler system not being required in the 1970s, but during a building refurbish, sprinklers should have been a higher priority than insulation for environmental purposes.

Government in general doesn't seem to do very well running public housing. The public housing here holds many abandoned buildings (some of which are still heated due to archaic utility systems), derelict buildings, and otherwise poorly maintained structures. Even when they elect to demolish, corruption, code violations, and long delays inevitably follow.

Gahrie said...

you see a country 10-20 years behind our standard of living.

It used to be much worse than that. I remember living in a village of at least 3,000 people in 1975, and we were the only family with a refrigerator.

It has a lot to do with the two lost generations from WWI and WWII, and the economic devastation after WW II. Then they had the great misfortune to be governed by Leftists until the election of Thatcher. She did what she could do to repair the damage.

Rusty said...

And we're supposed to emulate their healthcare system?
No thanks.