London fire: Tower blocks set for emergency checks after Grenfell blaze tragedy

Blocks of flats undergoing the same refurbishment work as Grenfell Tower will have emergency checks to avoid another tragedy, a government minister said.

In a bid to reassure people living in other tower blocks, Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd said they want to check over similar buildings “as quickly as possible”.

At least 12 people were killed after a huge blaze broke out inside the 24-storey tower block in west London shortly before 1am this morning.

Up to 600 hundred people are thought to live inside the block of 120 flats on the Lancaster West estate.

A top fire and explosion expert today said a “chimney effect” could be the reason the deadly fire spread so quickly overnight.


The scene of the major fire in Notting Hill. (Nigel Howard)

Minister Nick Hurd said on Wednesday: “We have discussed with the Department for Communities and Local Government, local authorities and the fire service a process whereby we seek to identify towers that might have a similar process of refurbishment, run a system of checks so that we can, as quickly as possible, give reassurance to people.”

Mr Hurd refused to comment on reports that ministers had been warned that building regulations were in urgent need of updating.

However he said that they were determined to establish exactly what happened.

“I am not going to comment on that at the moment,” he said. “I hope people will understand that the priority of the Government at the moment is to manage the emergency response, to deal with the security, to deal with lives to be saved, lives to be rebuilt, and to make sure that we have got the support in place for this emergency response.

Evacuation from Notting Hill Grenfell Tower Fire – In pictures

“That will then move into recovery phase and then we will move into a phase where we seek to answer the questions that people quite understandably have, so we really understand what happened here, what went wrong, so we don’t find ourselves in this situation, because I don’t think that anybody wants to go through another night like last night.”

Mr Hurd said that whatever resources were needed to deal with the situation would be made available.

“Everyone I have spoken to on the frontline – the fire, the police, the ambulance services – resources have not been the issue,” he said.

“People arrived very quickly in good numbers and with the right equipment to deal with an unprecedented situation last night.

“The Government is absolutely determined to make sure we are there to support the emergency and support services but also the people who have been caught up in this tragedy.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan: “I have been in talks with Government ministers, including the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, this afternoon, and I am working hard with them and of course with our emergency services on the response to the fire.

“I raised the issue of checks on other tower blocks which have been going through similar refurbishment programmes to Grenfell House, and I welcome that ministers have said checks will now be carried out.”

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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