The explosion of a refrigerator in a fourth-floor apartment at Grenfell Tower in London's North Kensington may have ignited the catastrophic fire, reports The Times of India. An eyewitness Safiyah Wallden said a resident was telling people that his fridge had exploded, causing a fire in his apartment. When Wallden first saw the fire around 1.15am, only a small section on the right side of the building was burning. However, the fire spread quickly after that and soon the entire building was on fire.
The theory of the fridge exploding is further backed up by several eyewitnesses describing hearing a distressed resident from Grenfell Tower, Abdul Ramaz, telling neighbours his fridge had caused the blaze at the block of flats, according to ITV.
The Telegraph said that residents did not hear the fire alarm on their floors. There were also no sprinklers in the tightly packed 24-storied highrise that contained 120 flats. The presence of only one stairwell further hindered evacuation.
The Times of India further added that Wallden believes the casualty figures will be high as she did not see many residents among those gathered around the building. "Usually, when there is a fire in a residential building, residents gather below in groups. I went all around the building and was surprised to see there weren't that many residents. Nor were many receiving treatment in the ambulance. I think many of the 500-600 people who lived in Grenfell Tower are dead."
It had also been reported that the planning documents detailing the refurbishment of the tower block did not refer to a type of fire barrier that building safety experts said should be used when high rise blocks are being re-clad. The local authority which owns Grenfell Tower in Kensington declined to confirm whether fire barriers were installed on most floors between the insulation panels attached to the exterior of the building as part of the renovation. Rydon Group, the construction company which undertook the work, also declined to say whether they had been used, but said the revamp "met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards."
At least 12 people were killed in a massive blaze that engulfed the London tower block on Wednesday, raising serious questions about fire safety in Britain's housing blocks.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jun 15, 2017 17:23:25 IST