Grenfell Tower’s smoke-filled stairwell could have proved just as deadly as cladding

Grenfell Tower’s narrow stairwell could have proved just as deadly as the block’s cladding, it has emerged. 

An investigation by the Sunday Times has found the 24-storey block’s stairwell, which served as the only fire escape, was turned into a vertical tunnel of smoke and proved a significant obstacle in saving lives.

Smoke poured into the stairwell on many floors, triggering a “stack” effect that forms strong currents of air, both upward and downward, in chimney like internal spaces, the newspaper reported.

In an account posted online, a firefighter had described how the vertical tunnel of smoke in the stairwell had left himself and colleagues groping around in the dark as they tried to rescue those trapped in the inferno.

Police consider manslaughter charges over Grenfell fire amid failed safety tests

He said: “We made our way up a crowded stairwell struggling to make progress, at times unable to pass because of the amount of people on the stairs. 

“The stairwells were full of other breathing apparatus (BA) crews bringing people down all in various states and conditions.

Grenfell Tower aftermath – In pictures

“The smoke grew thicker with each floor we went up. No proper floor numbers on the stairwells after about the 5th floor made it hard to know where you were. 

“Someone before us had tried to write them on the wall with chinagraph pencil but this didn’t last long. The dirty smoke was covering the walls with a film of blackness.”

It comes after experts employed by Scotland Yard, which is carrying out a criminal investigation into the fire, found the building’s insulating material was more flammable than the cladding.

Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack, who is leading the investigation, said on Friday that the fire started by a faulty fridge-freezer ignited cladding and insulation that has not passed new safety tests.

The June 14 tragedy, which left at least 79 people dead, triggered an urgent nationwide inspection of cladding used on the outsides of buildings, which has so far found that 34 flats in 17 local authority areas have not passed the safety tests.

This latest figure comes after Camden Council became the first local authority to order a mass evacuation of accommodation due to fire safety concerns in the wake of tragic Grenfell Tower fire.

Reuse content

Source :