The Grenfell Tower fire that has killed at least six people and injured 64 more was predicted by a blogger back in 2013, with the local council and the property’s owners, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, ignoring his pleas.
600 people were believed to have been inside Grenfell Tower’s 160 flats when the fire broke out, trapped in the 24-storey building in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Police expect the death toll to rise, with at least 20 in critical condition. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said that “questions need to be answered as soon as possible” after residents told the media that alarms in the building had not sounded, and they were told to stay in their flats while the fire engulfed the tower.
Now it has emerged that a blogger had predicted that such a catastrophic incident could take place in Grenfell Tower as far back as 2013, giving the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council repeated warnings that the building was at risk of such an event, only for his warnings to go ignored. Mr. O’Connor, who publishes blog posts for the Grenfell Action Group (GAC), was previously sent a letter by the council insisting that he remove blog posts critical of individuals working in the council regarding their actions surrounding Grenfell Tower. The letter noted how O’Connor had been “critical of everything that takes place in Lancester West,” the estate on which the Grenfell Tower is located.
However, despite acknowledging O’Connor’s complaints, the council failed to heed his warnings despite him sending numerous complaints to them over the course of the past four years. Another blog was posted to the GAC this morning after the fire had broken out, reading: “Regular readers of this blog will know that we have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in RBKC. ALL OUR WARNINGS FELL ON DEAF EARS and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”
The GAC first wrote about the “fire safety scandal” at Grenfell Tower back in January 2013, noting how the removal of the Lancaster Road car-park prevented access to Grenfell Tower. “There is barely adequate room to manoeuvre for fire engines responding to emergency calls,” the post reads, “and any obstruction of this emergency access zone could have lethal consequences in the event of a serious fire or similar emergency in Grenfell Tower or the adjacent blocks.”
In another post from November 2016, the GAC wrote: “It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.”
The post continued: “It is our conviction that a serious fire in a tower block or similar high density residential property is the most likely reason that those who wield power at the KCTMO will be found out and brought to justice! The Grenfell Action Group believe that the KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) narrowly averted a major fire disaster at Grenfell Tower in 2013 when residents experienced a period of terrifying power surges that were subsequently found to have been caused by faulty wiring. We believe that our attempts to highlight the seriousness of this event were covered up by the KCTMO with the help of the RBKC Scrutiny Committee who refused to investigate the legitimate concerns of tenants and leaseholders.”
There’s no word yet on what caused the Grenfell Tower fire, though the GAC features several posts detailing the electrical power surges in the building. In May 2013, a post from the GAC noted how residents of Grenfell Tower had “descended en masse on the estate office to demand action.” “They had woken to find smoke issuing from various electrical appliances in their homes, including the light fixtures, and descended in panic to the estate office to demand help and assistance,” the post reads.
It has also been claimed that Theresa’s May new chief of staff was one of a number of housing ministers who “sat on” damning evidence that Grenfell Tower was vulnerable to fire for four years. As reported by The Mirror, “Gavin Barwell, who was housing minister until losing his seat in last week’s election, promised to review part B of the Building Regulations 2010, which relate to fire safety, but the review never materialised.”
A full review of Grenfell Tower’s building regulations has yet to take place, with emergency services having spent nine hours still retrieving residents from the building this morning.