Fears grow as investigation of Grenfell Tower fire continues

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-24 05:29:48|Editor: yan
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By Larry Neild

LONDON, Jun 23 (Xinhua) -- A fire that started in a household refrigerator was blamed on Friday for starting the blaze that raged through Grenfell Tower, a high rise tower block in London, which killed at least 79 people.

The fire at Grenfell Tower has also sent shock waves across the country after it was confirmed that cladding and insulation material used in a multi-million dollar facelift had failed safety tests.

Towns and cities across Britain with projects using similar cladding materials had eagerly awaited the provisional test results, knowing the findings would have major implications.

One media report Friday said the implications of the Grenfell Tower fire could lead to the biggest ever peacetime evacuation of civilians if families had to be moved out of buildings with cladding panels at risk of combustion.

Some city hall and town hall officials have already ordered cladding materials to be removed from buildings in their towns and cities, as residents in some high rise blocks saying they were now living in fear.

London's Metropolitan Police said Friday over 250 specialist investigators are now working on the Grenfell Tower fire investigation, one of the biggest ever crime cases every handled by the Met.

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack, who is heading the investigation, said every organization involved in refurbishment of the 24-level tower block is being investigated.

"If I find out that individuals or organizations have committed offences then I must be in a position to prosecute without prejudice to any proceedings.

"We are looking at every criminal offence from manslaughter onwards. We are looking at every health and safety and fire safety offences and we are reviewing every company at the moment involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower," she said.

The government's Department for Business has ordered technical experts to carry out a detailed examination of the Hotpoint fridge freezer involved in the fire.

Greg Clark, Secretary of State for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said: "The safety of consumers is paramount. The device is being subject to immediate and rigorous testing to establish the cause of the fire. I have made clear to the company that I will expect them to replace any item without delay if it is established that there is a risk in using them."

The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported Friday that around 30,000 buildings across Britain are likely to be examined to check cladding materials used.

As well as residential apartment blocks, the list will include student accommodation, hotels, office buildings and hospitals.

The hotel chain Premier Inn said Friday it was concerned about material used on three of its properties -- in the London areas of Brentford and Tottenham, as well as one in Maidenhead.

The buildings were investigated during a "detailed assessment" of its estate, the hotel chain said.

Buildings clad with material similar to that used in Grenfell Tower have already been identified near Manchester, Plymouth, Portsmouth as well as London.

The Telegraph said Theresa May has said residents will not be forced to stay in "unsafe homes" but with local councils facing what could be one of Britain's biggest peacetime evacuations, residents have yet to hear whether they will be re-housed.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called for an amnesty for illegal immigrants who had been living in Grenfell Tower. The government and the Met have both said the legal status of people affected by the fire will not be checked.