Grenfell Tower Inquiry hears harrowing witness statements


Grenfell Tower Inquiry hears harrowing witness statements

Paul Bond

15 November 2018

The official inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire of June 14, 2017, which killed 72, continues to hear witness statements from survivors, relatives and the bereaved.

The evidence, focusing on events that night, is harrowing and confirms the wider failings of the authorities that directly led to the catastrophe.

Survivors spoke of stepping on bodies on the single stairwell in the tower as they tried to escape. Helen Gebremeskel, from the 21st floor, explained in her written statement, that “most of the bodies I stood on were not making any noise when I walked on them… I believe that these poor people were already dead.”

Witnesses described heroic efforts by fire fighters, even as it was becoming apparent that their “stay put” policy was breaking down because they did not realize that the fire was spreading rapidly due to flammable cladding materials. Many probing questions were raised about the London Fire Brigade’s (LFB) application of policy that night, connecting this directly with the under-resourcing of public services.

Survivors have described a background of casual negligence surrounding the management and refurbishment of the building run by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) via its tenant management association. They point to a general lack of consultation and a lack of information on safety questions.

Testimony points to the chronic shortage of social housing. In January 2017, Leanne Jackson Le-Blanc, who is disabled with mobility problems, rejected an offer of a flat in Grenfell Tower as she was concerned that the lifts were unreliable and would be unsuitable. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) offered her the same flat in April…

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