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Grenfell Tower fire cause: faulty fridge freezer sparked blaze and insulation failed safety tests, say police

Latest from the London  Evening Standard as above:

A close study of this disaster will reveal similarities in several ways to what Montserrat experienced even to this day from the onset of volcanic activity in 1995 and fatal event captured in this Special Edition remembering June 25, 1997.

Police: we are looking at all charges including manslaughter, and all firms involved

By Justin davenport, David Churchill, NIcholas Cecil

The full extent of failings behind the Grenfell Tower inferno was laid bare today as police revealed that a fire started by a faulty fridge-freezer ignited cladding and insulation that have not passed new safety tests.

Scotland Yard issued an alert over materials used on the west London tower after samples caught light easily during new independent checks. 

Officials were so concerned at the findings that the information was immediately shared with the Government. It has alerted councils. 

The tests on insulation samples taken from the tower were carried out by experts employed by Scotland Yard, which is carrying out a criminal investigation into how the fire started and why it took hold so easily.

Today police also said they will consider manslaughter charges as part of their investigation. Officers have started seizing relevant documents from various organisations.

The Met said officials had established that the blaze started in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer. 

A fridge fire is believed to have broken out on the fourth floor of the North Kensington block last week. 

At least 79 people are feared to have died.

Police said the fridge-freezer, FF175BP, had not previously been linked to any fires or subject to any recall. 

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack, who is overseeing the investigation, said early tests had been carried out on the cladding and insulation installed on Grenfell Tower during a recent £10 million refit.

Luxury flat residents complain rehousing Grenfell families ‘unfair’

She said: “What we are being told is that the cladding and the insulation failed all safety tests.

“The insulation was more flammable than the cladding. Tests show the insulation samples combusted soon after the test started.

“We have immediately shared the data with the Department for Communities and Local Government. [It is] sharing the information with local councils.”

Ms McCormack said the investigation “will seek to establish how the fire started and how quickly it took hold — the speed was unexpected.

Inside Grenfell Tower

We will also seek to understand what happened to each and every person who died in the fire.”

Previously, police said they would examine everything from the cause of the fire to the management of the building, recent refurbishments and fire safety measures and whether panels were fitted unlawfully.

Celotex, an Ipswich-based company, has said it made the insulation which fitted between the cladding and the concrete wall of the tower.

The firm said the product had Class 0 rating, which prevented flames from spreading and limited the amount of heat released.

Police said the number of people who had died or were missing and presumed dead remained at 79, a figure which has not changed since Monday.

However, Ms McCormack said the figure could still change and urged anyone who might have been in the tower and had not yet contacted the authorities to come forward. 

She said neither the Home Office nor her inquiry were interested in the immigration status of anyone living there.

“Our priority is to identify all those who died — we do not want there to be any hidden victims,” she added.

A total of 250 officers led by an experienced homicide detective are working on the inquiry.

Prosecutors are advising on possible corporate manslaughter charges.

Ms McCormack said officers had begun seizing documents from organisations involved but that nobody had been questioned because it is “way too early”.

She said charges of manslaughter and other criminal breaches, including potential breaches of regulations, would be considered.

So far, police have seized hundreds of hours of CCTV, listened to 600 999 calls and started taking statements from survivors. Officers are continuing a “painstaking search” of the tower.

In recent days concern has focused on the cladding panels fitted to the tower during the multi-million-pound refurbishment.

So far, the Government has received samples from 11 high-rise buildings in eight local authority areas in the UK where the cladding has failed safety tests, including a number in London.

Premier Inn also revealed “concerns” today that cladding used on some of its buildings may not meet safety regulations. The hotel chain said three of its properties — in Maidenhead, Brentford and Tottenham — have been investigated during a “detailed assessment” of its estate.

A spokeswoman said the material was not the same as that used to clad Grenfell Tower. However, she said the company had called in an expert to review the safety of its buildings, who had confirmed they were safe.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham whose artist friend Khadija Saye died in the fire, has said issues relating to sprinklers, fire doors and the cladding should be investigated. He has asked why arrests are not being made.

Residential blocks in Barnet, Brent, Haringey, and Newham are understood to have cladding similar to Grenfell’s. But the problem may be far wider, with the safety spotlight shifting on to schools, hospitals, students accommodation, hotels and office blocks.

Samples of cladding were taken yesterday in Barnet where three blocks — Granville Point, Harpenmead Point and Templemead Point — are fitted with external rain screen panels of aluminium composite material.

They are believed to be the same type, or similar, to cladding on tower blocks in Camden which the council has already started removing. The insulation behind the cladding on the social housing blocks in Camden and Barnet is understood to be non-combustible.

In Haringey, the Newlon Housing Trust confirmed that its 22-storey Rivers Apartments block, completed in spring 2015, is clad with Reynobond PE.

The building has a sprinkler system and other fire safety measures.

The London Fire Brigade carried out an extensive audit yesterday, making some “straightforward recommendations”.

A Newlon spokesman said: “With regard to the status of the cladding, at the end of last week we asked the leading independent experts the Building Research Establishment to review its design and specification and we are waiting for their technical recommendations.”

Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner hand-delivered a letter to Octavia Housing at 3am today after being informed by Brent council’s chief executive, Carolyn Downes, that cladding on Elizabeth House, High Road, Wembley, “failed” a fire safety test.

This morning, Grahame Hindes, chief executive of Octavia Housing, said: “The safety of our residents is always our top priority.

“We were therefore very disappointed to hear this morning that some of the panels on one of our recently completed schemes in Wembley do not meet the highest standards expected by the Building Research Establishment.”

He stressed that Elizabeth House is a modern purpose-built block with a comprehensive fire strategy and a range of fire safety features including sprinklers in all flats.

Councils around the country have sent off cladding samples from tower blocks to undergo testing, including in Sheffield, Halifax and Salford.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Latest from the London  Evening Standard as above:

A close study of this disaster will reveal similarities in several ways to what Montserrat experienced even to this day from the onset of volcanic activity in 1995 and fatal event captured in this Special Edition remembering June 25, 1997.

Police: we are looking at all charges including manslaughter, and all firms involved

Insert Ads Here

By Justin davenport, David Churchill, NIcholas Cecil

The full extent of failings behind the Grenfell Tower inferno was laid bare today as police revealed that a fire started by a faulty fridge-freezer ignited cladding and insulation that have not passed new safety tests.

Scotland Yard issued an alert over materials used on the west London tower after samples caught light easily during new independent checks. 

Officials were so concerned at the findings that the information was immediately shared with the Government. It has alerted councils. 

The tests on insulation samples taken from the tower were carried out by experts employed by Scotland Yard, which is carrying out a criminal investigation into how the fire started and why it took hold so easily.

Today police also said they will consider manslaughter charges as part of their investigation. Officers have started seizing relevant documents from various organisations.

The Met said officials had established that the blaze started in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer. 

A fridge fire is believed to have broken out on the fourth floor of the North Kensington block last week. 

At least 79 people are feared to have died.

Police said the fridge-freezer, FF175BP, had not previously been linked to any fires or subject to any recall. 

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack, who is overseeing the investigation, said early tests had been carried out on the cladding and insulation installed on Grenfell Tower during a recent £10 million refit.

Luxury flat residents complain rehousing Grenfell families ‘unfair’

She said: “What we are being told is that the cladding and the insulation failed all safety tests.

“The insulation was more flammable than the cladding. Tests show the insulation samples combusted soon after the test started.

“We have immediately shared the data with the Department for Communities and Local Government. [It is] sharing the information with local councils.”

Ms McCormack said the investigation “will seek to establish how the fire started and how quickly it took hold — the speed was unexpected.

Inside Grenfell Tower

We will also seek to understand what happened to each and every person who died in the fire.”

Previously, police said they would examine everything from the cause of the fire to the management of the building, recent refurbishments and fire safety measures and whether panels were fitted unlawfully.

Celotex, an Ipswich-based company, has said it made the insulation which fitted between the cladding and the concrete wall of the tower.

The firm said the product had Class 0 rating, which prevented flames from spreading and limited the amount of heat released.

Police said the number of people who had died or were missing and presumed dead remained at 79, a figure which has not changed since Monday.

However, Ms McCormack said the figure could still change and urged anyone who might have been in the tower and had not yet contacted the authorities to come forward. 

She said neither the Home Office nor her inquiry were interested in the immigration status of anyone living there.

“Our priority is to identify all those who died — we do not want there to be any hidden victims,” she added.

A total of 250 officers led by an experienced homicide detective are working on the inquiry.

Prosecutors are advising on possible corporate manslaughter charges.

Ms McCormack said officers had begun seizing documents from organisations involved but that nobody had been questioned because it is “way too early”.

She said charges of manslaughter and other criminal breaches, including potential breaches of regulations, would be considered.

So far, police have seized hundreds of hours of CCTV, listened to 600 999 calls and started taking statements from survivors. Officers are continuing a “painstaking search” of the tower.

In recent days concern has focused on the cladding panels fitted to the tower during the multi-million-pound refurbishment.

So far, the Government has received samples from 11 high-rise buildings in eight local authority areas in the UK where the cladding has failed safety tests, including a number in London.

Premier Inn also revealed “concerns” today that cladding used on some of its buildings may not meet safety regulations. The hotel chain said three of its properties — in Maidenhead, Brentford and Tottenham — have been investigated during a “detailed assessment” of its estate.

A spokeswoman said the material was not the same as that used to clad Grenfell Tower. However, she said the company had called in an expert to review the safety of its buildings, who had confirmed they were safe.

David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham whose artist friend Khadija Saye died in the fire, has said issues relating to sprinklers, fire doors and the cladding should be investigated. He has asked why arrests are not being made.

Residential blocks in Barnet, Brent, Haringey, and Newham are understood to have cladding similar to Grenfell’s. But the problem may be far wider, with the safety spotlight shifting on to schools, hospitals, students accommodation, hotels and office blocks.

Samples of cladding were taken yesterday in Barnet where three blocks — Granville Point, Harpenmead Point and Templemead Point — are fitted with external rain screen panels of aluminium composite material.

They are believed to be the same type, or similar, to cladding on tower blocks in Camden which the council has already started removing. The insulation behind the cladding on the social housing blocks in Camden and Barnet is understood to be non-combustible.

In Haringey, the Newlon Housing Trust confirmed that its 22-storey Rivers Apartments block, completed in spring 2015, is clad with Reynobond PE.

The building has a sprinkler system and other fire safety measures.

The London Fire Brigade carried out an extensive audit yesterday, making some “straightforward recommendations”.

A Newlon spokesman said: “With regard to the status of the cladding, at the end of last week we asked the leading independent experts the Building Research Establishment to review its design and specification and we are waiting for their technical recommendations.”

Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner hand-delivered a letter to Octavia Housing at 3am today after being informed by Brent council’s chief executive, Carolyn Downes, that cladding on Elizabeth House, High Road, Wembley, “failed” a fire safety test.

This morning, Grahame Hindes, chief executive of Octavia Housing, said: “The safety of our residents is always our top priority.

“We were therefore very disappointed to hear this morning that some of the panels on one of our recently completed schemes in Wembley do not meet the highest standards expected by the Building Research Establishment.”

He stressed that Elizabeth House is a modern purpose-built block with a comprehensive fire strategy and a range of fire safety features including sprinklers in all flats.

Councils around the country have sent off cladding samples from tower blocks to undergo testing, including in Sheffield, Halifax and Salford.