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Video: Huge fire engulfs 24-storey tower in London

Massive blaze at 24-storey Grenfell Tower in London rapidly spreads up the curtain wall cladding of the building in scenes reminiscent of recent fires in the UAE

A huge fire broke out at Grenfell Tower in London in the early hours of the morning, rapidly engulfing the full height of the 24-storey tower and continuing to burn more than six hours later, with smoke visible across the capital.

A man identified as Methrob, who lived on the 17th floor of the building, told LBC Radio: “I heard the fire trucks and so I was alerted that something was going on. There was no fire alarm in the building: we don’t have an integrated fire alarm system.”

In an echo of many of the tower fires in the UAE, like the Tamweel Tower incident in 2012 and the Torch Tower fire in 2015, which led to the issuance of stricter regulations on building cladding, spectators remarked on the rapid spread of the fire up the building's facade.

Methrob said the fire was inside one apartment but added the “real issue was when it caught fire to the cladding outside. That’s when I noticed the fire from outside when I looked out the window. The cladding went up like a matchstick.”

Fire fighters arrived on site within six minutes, and as many as 200 hundreds arrived at the scene, along with 40 fire engines and a range of specialist vehicles, but the blaze spread rapidly both on the inside and outside of the building.

The London fire commissioner Dany Cotton has confirmed that there have been fatalities, but could not confirm the number “due to the size and complexity of this fire,” while adding that the cause of the blaze was also unknown at this stage.

The London ambulance service said 50 people had been taken to five London hospitals.

For more information on the incident, see London tower fire: reports of fire alarm failings and flammable cladding

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Construction Week - Issue 751
Oct 13, 2019