London residents demand answers in deadly high-rise blaze

CONSTRUCTION plans for the London building that erupted in flames claiming at least 12 lives show the perilous maze residents had to navigate to make their way to the building's single fire escape.

The cause of the fire has not yet been reported.

"We are shocked to hear of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower and our immediate thoughts are with those that have been affected by the incident", a Rydon spokesperson said in an emailed statement. As smoke continued to billow from the gutted building, survivors voiced anger over longstanding safety fears at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower, which was home to between 600 and 800 people.

One focus for the investigation will be the building's cladding, which TV architect George Clarke said may have accelerated the blaze.

Higgins said the Republic's citizens were thinking of those hurt or grieving in the blaze at the west London tower block.

Refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower, originally built in 1974, was completed in May 2016 at a cost of $14.6 million.

Her friend, artist Nicola Green, said: "We're desperately trying to communicate with all the hospitals".

The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation who have been in charge of the building since 1996 said on its website that "it is too early to speculate what caused the fire and contributed to its spread".

They also insisted that, building control and safety standards had been fully met. People who initially remained in place may have been unable to escape later because the hallways and fire escapes were filled with heavy smoke and flames.

"We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations".

Volunteers stood on the edge of the exclusion zone with trays of sandwiches, which were offered to police as they walked past. "I do anticipate that the number of fatalities will sadly increase beyond those 12", said the Metropolitan Police's Stuart Cundy in a televised address.

He said: "The logic of construction of tower blocks is to compartmentalise the fire, so a fire should be restricted to the flat or floor of origin".

"I guess that's why she was dressed in an Abaya to blend in as a lot of the ppl around were in one", they said.

But residents said refurbishment work had recently been carried out with cladding on the outside of the structure and work on the gas supply to the flats.

Which is why, Vandertorn said, Phoenix fire officials visit every high-rise building to see the layout and determine where things are.

The application of insulating layers to the outside of buildings is common, but it is also recognised by some architects and construction safety specialists as a potential fire risk.

Dozens of people gathered for a vigil on Wednesday night in the shadow of the tower as the sun began to set.

  • Carolyn Briggs