Grenfell Tower Fire
The Grenfell Tower fire occurred on 14 June 2017, at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower, a block of public housing flats in North Kensington, London, England. The confirmed death toll on 16 June is more than 30 people, but this is expected to rise significantly.
The fire started shortly before 1 a.m. local time. Hundreds of firefighters and 45 fire engines were involved in efforts to control the fire, and later attempted to control pockets of fire on the higher floors after most of the rest of the building had been gutted. Residents of surrounding buildings were evacuated out of concerns that the tower could collapse, though the building was later determined to still be structurally sound.
It is possible that up to 600 people were in the 120 one and two-bedroom flats of the block at the time of the fire. At least 30 people were killed, and 76 are reported missing. Sixty-five were rescued by firefighters. Seventy-four people were confirmed to be in five hospitals across London, 17 of whom were in a critical condition. Ongoing fires on the upper floors and fears of structural collapse hindered the search and recovery effort. On 16 June police said that they did not believe they would find more survivors, that it was likely that some victims would never be identified, and that the final death toll may exceed 60, with media sources stating that the deaths may reach 100.
The cause of the fire is not yet known. The extraordinary speed at which the fire spread is widely believed to have been aided by the building's recently added exterior cladding, which appeared to contain highly flammable material. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, criticised the safety instructions; in particular, those instructions telling people to stay in their flats until rescued by fire services. This advice proved fatal to residents who heeded it, as it relies on the assumption that fire services can contain a fire within the building's interior, which is impossible if the fire is spreading rapidly via the building's exterior. Since 2013, the residents' organisation, Grenfell Action Group, had repeatedly expressed concern about fire safety, and had warned the block's management in November 2016 that only a catastrophic fire would finally force them to treat fire precautions and maintenance of fire-related systems properly.