Towering Inferno in London

Discussion in 'Community Board' started by Domo, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. cabanafrau

    cabanafrau DIS Veteran

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    Heard a soundbite on the radio from an eyewitness who reported a mom called out and said she was going to toss her baby down from I'm not sure how many floors up. Someone below managed to safely catch the baby. Thank goodness. I hope and pray mom made it out okay, but I do have doubts if she went to the extreme to throw her child out the window. God bless that family and all the rest.
     
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  2. NotUrsula

    NotUrsula DIS Veteran

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    It is absolutely horrible, and I'm beyond furious about it. According to the renovation contracts, that cladding was Celotex RS5000. The insulating material in that product is polyisocyanurate foam. The US Material Safety Data Sheet on that warns that it is quite flammable and that the smoke is toxic. Butane is among the chemical components of the stuff, so you can imagine how hot it can burn. In the US it is illegal to use it on a high-rise; you can only put it on a building less than 4 stories tall.

    What a lot of Americans are not realizing about this story is that Grenfell Tower is public housing, though some of the flats were privately owned (it's complicated how, so I won't go into that here.) Some of the private owners were renting out their flats, at an average rent of $2500/month, so the building is not the sort of environment that Americans tend to think of when they think "public housing project", at least not now. Kensington & Chelsea is the wealthiest borough in London these days. Though this particular area was once a near-slum, it has almost completely gentrified now. This housing estate is one of the few remaining semi-affordable options for working-class Londoners. Many of the tenants in this building were elderly &/or disabled, as they get first dibs on available Council flats.

    The RBKC Council uses a private management firm, which is very handsomely paid for their work -- or lack of it. This 24-story building had ONE narrow staircase running down right through the center of the structure, one single-wide exit door (no additional fire exits), no sprinklers, and apparently, no working fire alarm system. It also apparently had a very wonky electrical system, as there have been reports filed for several years now showing major electrical surges that have caused appliances to actually burst into flame. Even without the plastic cladding, that building was horribly unsafe for a fire scenario, and the Council was very aware of it. In addition, there are no streets that directly abut the building, and only one very narrow dead-end street that leads into and out of the estate. The complex (there are several buildings) is set up as a walkable green space, with lots of sidewalks that have bollards placed at intervals. The fire crews responded within 6 minutes, but the trucks could not get close enough to really be much use. In this photo, the tower is the red square, and the purple line is the only road in, the one that the fire trucks all had to try to use.
    [​IMG]
     
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  4. cabanafrau

    cabanafrau DIS Veteran

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    Even watching the BBC coverage over here I didn't see that type of information. Absolutely infuriating to hear how the perfect storm was allowed to form the setting for such horror. I certainly hope at the minimum this will result in serious steps to insure this perfect storm can never happen again. It was jarring seeing the initial images of such a large occupied building so engulfed in flames. The more I hear the worse it gets. So incredibly heartbreaking.
     
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  5. NotUrsula

    NotUrsula DIS Veteran

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    I've been following the print news very closely; my parents once lived quite close by. FWIW, an editorial in today's Guardian is calling this Theresa May's Hurricane Katrina.

    Also, it is now being reported that the same cladding product has apparently been used on several other public housing buildings in the UK, though not all of them are high-rise. That stuff will have to come off, and it will be interesting to see who ends up paying for that. (BTW, specifications for similar cladding that is better fire-rated require using mineral batting instead of foam in the insulating layer. They could have purchased that type, but for some reason chose not to. I would like to be a fly on the wall when whoever made that decision has to defend it.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017
  6. Domo

    Domo Wotcha

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    I am so with you. At the risk of sounding political, I am infuriated that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, couldn't be bothered to comfort the bereaved and homeless families following this tragedy yet the leader of the opposition was on the ground with the inflicted. All May could do was meet with fire crews.
     
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  7. cabanafrau

    cabanafrau DIS Veteran

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    Purely as an outsider, devil's advocate way of approaching it, is there any possibility that she didn't wade into the situation with the bereaved and homeless at this time because there's a lot of baggage that comes with a visit from a sitting PM versus a candidate? Here we've had tragedies and disasters and there are cries of, where is the President (whoever happens to hold the office when the tragedy strikes) and the person holding office at the time waits to visit because they realize it's not particularly helpful in a lot of ways to have the circus roll into town so to speak.
     
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  8. Domo

    Domo Wotcha

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    I'm just livid that leaders of other parties are on hand to share in grief but she keeps the public at arm's length.

    I'll shut up now or I'll get points.
     
  9. Domo

    Domo Wotcha

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    It looks like the death toll will hit 100 :(
     
  10. Planogirl

    Planogirl I feel the nerd in me stirring

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    Geesh. How incredibly sad.

    I hope that they move quickly to get this stuff off of buildings.
     
  11. Marchand63

    Marchand63 DIS Veteran

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    Watched YouTube videos - just horrific. Thoughts &'prayers with all affected.
     
  12. NotUrsula

    NotUrsula DIS Veteran

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    Update: the confirmed death toll is now 79. Recovery efforts are still ongoing.
     
  13. cabanafrau

    cabanafrau DIS Veteran

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    Such unbelievable anguish for so many. I feel for those doing the recovery work, too. Undoubtedly it will leave wounds on them as well.
     
  14. superme80

    superme80 DIS Veteran

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    Just awful!
     

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