Tests after Grenfell Tower fire reveal cladding on 600 UK buildings ‘combustible’

Flames spread rapidly up the 24-storey residential tower block last week, trapping people inside, in what was Britain’s worst blaze since the second world war.

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 June, 2017, 6:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 June, 2017, 10:35pm

Tests on exterior building materials in other high-rise buildings conducted after the devastating west London fire has shown that some of the panels submitted were combustible.

British Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that authorities submitted cladding on similar buildings following the Grenfell Tower fire on June 14 that killed at least 79 people. The aluminium composite material is being studied to see if it contributed to the quick spread of the blaze, which consumed the 24-storey building in less than an hour.

“Shortly before I came to the chamber, I was informed that a number of these tests have come back as combustible,” she said.

“The relevant local authorities and local fire services have been informed, and, as I speak, they are taking all possible steps to ensure buildings are safe and to inform affected residents.”

A spokeswoman for May later said an estimated 600 buildings in England have cladding similar to that used at the Grenfell Tower block.

“We are obviously in touch with all the local authorities to encourage them to urgently send us the samples and then we will carry out the checks that we need,” she said.

Britain’s opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, called for urgent checks on around 4,000 buildings as Britain comes to grips with the potential ramifications of the disaster.

“At least 79 people are dead — it is both a tragedy and an outrage because every single one of those deaths could and should have been avoided,” Corbyn said.

May has apologised for mistakes made in dealing with the aftermath of Grenfell Tower tragedy and promised that “no stone will be left unturned” in the inquiry.

“For any guilty parties there will be nowhere to hide,” she said.

May’s comments came following the resignation of the local administrator in the west London community devastated by the fire after government officials criticised the speed of the response to the tragedy.

Nicholas Holgate, chief executive of the Kensington and Chelsea council, had come under intense pressure in the wake of last week’s Grenfell Tower blaze.

The first few days after inferno were marked by chaos on the ground as local authorities struggled to deal with the scope of the disaster.

Residents who survived the tower blaze lost everything, only to get little help or information on how they would get back on their feet.

Additional reporting by Reuters