General Question

imrainmaker's avatar

Have you seen news about fire in multistorey building in London?

Asked by imrainmaker (5510points) 2 months ago

Number of casualties are feared because of this devastating fire. How much readiness is there in the area where you live to deal with such situations?

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39 Answers

jca's avatar

I saw it last night on FB. I hope it’s not terrorism.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’ve been watching it for most of the day. I don’t think it is @jca. I think someone is going to end up getting sued though. The building was recently re-clad and apparently, the cladding was what initially fueled the fire and allowed the fire so quickly up the building. Plus, the fire alarms and smoke detectors weren’t linked so people didn’t get those notifications and the fire brigade had visited the building a week ago and had told people that in the event of a fire, they should stay in their flats. The absolute worst advice, given how quickly this fire took hold.

Poor people. What a horrible, horrible thing to go through and a terrible way to die for those that have lost their lives.

JLeslie's avatar

I have a fire station a mile from me, but nothing around here is more than one story. Although, a few of the one stories have parts of the home or building that are 16 feet. Just over an hour from me there are high rises (over 10 floors) I’m sure the fire departments are well equipped.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I don’t think the fire brigade were ill-equipped @JLeslie and the first emergency service people arrived within six minutes. They had, if I recall correctly, 45 fire trucks there very quickly. Unfortunately, they were dealing with a fire that took hold so fast and so ferociously the fire brigade couldn’t do anything to stop it. There have been other high rise fires involving aluminum composite material. One in Melbourne, another in France and another in Dubai (I think).

And when you factor in the unlinked smoke detectors, only one central staircase for all the flats and that a week before fire officers inspecting the building and emergency information in the building told people to stay in their flats rather than trying to get out. It was just a complete cluster fuck. So sad. The building’s rental association had been trying to get some action because the organisation in charge of the building hadn’t been meeting their responsibilities. About seven months ago, an action group made a blog post warning about the risk of a serious fire.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I never was thinking they were ill equipped.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Your last sentence was “I’m sure the fire departments (your local fire departments) are well-equipped”. Your post suggests your local fire department is close by and sufficiently well-equipped to handle this sort of emergency. My point is that the fire brigade in this fire were equipped and arrived quickly, but they couldn’t handle this fire. Neither could the Australian, French or UAE fire brigades. The way to manage such fires is for there to be some serious research into the materials being used to clad high rise buildings and perhaps for such materials to be banned.

I’m certain there are buildings all over the US, Australia, the UK etc. that are clad with this sort of material. We should all be asking questions about the high rise buildings in our neighbourhoods and especially if we live in one.

JLeslie's avatar

Actually, the last sentence was referring to the fire departments where the tall buildings are, which is what the Q was asking I think, but I do think my local departments are well equipped for what is needed here too. I wasn’t trying to imply the London department wasn’t well equipped. We’ve had quite a bit of fires across the state before the recent rains started, they had trouble controlling them and putting them out, but I still think we are well equipped. Fire is difficult.

In America when there is a big fire that the local district cannot contain, fire trucks from outside the district are called in to help. I’m sure this is true in many countries.

Edit: The Q asked if our local department is well equipped, or how much readiness, so I answered it.

flutherother's avatar

A fire on this scale in a building of 20 or 30 stories is almost impossible for any fire service to deal with. As in 9–11 there was the possibility the entire buildng might collapse.

janbb's avatar

I’‘m in Britain now. Just read they think there are 6 dead. Fortunately it’s not more.

imrainmaker's avatar

There’s bad news. It’s rose to 12 and 74 injured. I hope there aren’t more.

imrainmaker's avatar

Baby was dropped from 10th floor by mother which was caught by man in the crowd which is safe. Isn’t that a miracle?

Patty_Melt's avatar

I heard about the baby too. Can you imagine what this will do to the man’s life? I bet it will replay in his mind every day the rest of his life, along with every associated emotion. Amazing catch, so amazing.

JLeslie's avatar

I think a baby story like that once came out of NYC years back. Can you imagine dropping your baby like that? OMG. Is the mother safe?

Patty_Melt's avatar

I hope so. They had reports of sighting of people still inside alive.
It is so severely damaged rescue will be awfully tricky. They expect to find a lot of bodies.
The only way out was one stairwell. That is why people were told they would be safest in their flats. At least that way they could be reached from the outside. If they hit the stairs and got trapped there would be little chance of reaching them.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

That was my first thought too @JLeslie. How desperate was that woman to save her child to take the decision to drop it from 10 stories high. Poor woman. I hope she has survived.

They’ve used drones to go in and make preliminary examinations of the building. They’re saying the death toll will rise.

NerdyKeith's avatar

Yes it is terribly sad. Tragic.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

That’s not why they were told to stay inside @Patty_Melt. The ‘Stay Put’ policy has been in force since the 1950s. The renovations to the building (the cladding work I mentioned above) have changed the building envelope of the structure. See this article.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Sorry if I was in error. I only went by the reporter I saw from on the scene. Maybe her information came from a confused bystander.

I can’t imagine how anybody could have survived all that smoke and heat, but some believe they have seen movement.

Tragic. So sad.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I can’t honestly believe anyone has survived either, but amazing things happen. I hope it’s true and that if there are more survivors in there, the emergency services get to them soon.

Yet again, the positive to take from this is the local community’s response. With local residents offering food, clothing, and shelter to those who need it.

Stinley's avatar

It’s now becoming more certain that it was the new cladding that was covering the building after refurbishment a year ago is to blame. Apparently there is an air gap between the cladding and the concrete walls of the building but no blocks to stop the fire being able to spread from each sheet of cladding or even different areas. This air gap could have acted like a chimney, drawing the oxygen up and fueling the fire. The cladding is also metal with a plastic interior which would burn. It’s a terrible tragedy.

This type of housing is almost 100% social housing, so is given to poorer people, people on benefits, refugees and asylum seekers, etc. Not rich people. I can’t help thinking that if it is because of the shoddy work on the refurbishment, it wouldn’t have happened to rich people’s tower blocks like the Barbican.

No money, no influence, no power. It is criminal what has happened.

ucme's avatar

I didn’t respond to this until now because @Earthbound_Misfit has covered just about everything.
Only remains for me to add my thoughts for those poor, poor people & admiration for the fire crews.

flutherother's avatar

@Stinley I would agree and as the Independent reported:

” the cladding – a low-cost way of improving the front of the building – was chosen in part so that the tower would look better when seen from the conservation areas and luxury flats that surround north Kensington, according to planning documents, as well as to insulate it.”

janbb's avatar

This reminds me of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in NYC over a hundred years ago in which numerous sweatshop women workers died. The doors were locked to prevent them taking breaks. It created an outcry. Hopefully this will too.

Patty_Melt's avatar

The cladding added to th severity of the fire, but could not have started it.
Do they know yet whether it was accidental or intentional?
So sad. So tragically sad.
I know first hand being confronted with a life threatening situation with babe in arms. I can’t stop thinking about the poor mommy who dropped hers out the window and had to trust someone would be a good catch. It has brought all those long ago feelings to me, and I get nauseous.
My heart goes out to the recovery team.

Stinley's avatar

@Patty_Melt It was thought to be a faulty fridge on the fourth floor

Strauss's avatar

What a tragedy! IMHO this could have completely been avoided.

@Stinley …air gap between the cladding and the concrete walls of the building but no blocks to stop the fire being able to spread…

Sounds like shoddy workmanship to me. Fireblocks are one of those things that every construction worker should know about.

dabbler's avatar

“it wouldn’t have happened to rich people’s tower blocks”
There have been fires in fancy buildings in Dubai that got out of hand very fast due to the same kind of cladding. It has happened enough for them to change their building codes.
””: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-dubai-high-rise-fires-20170122-story.html
This is a situation where the building method is new and folks are learning about what they need to do for fire safety.

ucme's avatar

At least 30 now confirmed as dead with that number set to rise still further.
RIP

jca's avatar

I’m just updating with this Q now. Did anybody hear about the mom who dropped the baby out? I wonder if she lived.

janbb's avatar

Yes, she was caught.

jca's avatar

I wanted to see about the mom @janbb. They’re saying they fear the mom died because the floor was engulfed in flames right after the mom threw the baby.

janbb's avatar

Oh – got it.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder in situations like that if people could strip and pile up bunches of fabric so people could more safely jump from windows and try to live? Even better would be blankets and comforters if residential was near by, as long as it wasn’t at risk to readily catch on fire.

jca's avatar

I’m guessing it would take a whole lot of comforters and fabric in one spot to cushion the fall of say, a 200 lb person falling from several stories high, or higher. Also, that wouldn’t help someone trapped in their apartment in another area of the building.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca It might only help some of the people, but if it helps anyone it’s worth it.

Stinley's avatar

There’s lots of people who have died who they haven’t yet identified. They are saying that it’s going to be a difficult process because the bodies have basically cremated by the fire

ucme's avatar

Metropolitan Police confirm a further 58 people are missing presumed dead.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Pure hell for the recovery team.
They will face the horrors of this tragedy in graphic detail. They have my deep compassion.

I hope that mother at least was able to see her daughter had been safely caught.

Tough to process.

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