Five years after the catastrophic fire in London’s Grenfell Tower, the names of the 72 victims were read out at a memorial service. Survivors and the bereaved gathered at Westminster Abbey in the British capital on Tuesday to commemorate the tragedy. Mourners paused for 72 seconds and laid flowers at the burned-out skyscraper, which is still covered with a tarpaulin.
The cause of the fire on June 14, 2017 was a defective refrigerator in an apartment on the fourth floor of the 24-story public housing building in North Kensington. The flames spread rapidly over large parts of the residential tower via a flammable facade cladding, dozens of residents were helplessly at the mercy of the fire.
To this day, those affected make serious allegations against the authorities. Among other things, they accuse the government of having cut the funds for fire protection and the authorities responsible for social housing before the disaster. As the “Times” reported, 640,000 people in the kingdom still live in buildings with the same facade cladding.
Anglican Bishop of Kensington Graham Tomlin said Grenfell Tower was a “powder keg” and the tragedy was inevitable. For people in the west London neighborhood, even after five years, the memory is “really difficult,” he told Times Radio. “People are still deeply traumatized.”
On the anniversary, firefighters accused the government of still not taking fire protection seriously. Firefighters union general secretary Matt Wrack said there were still job cuts at the fire department after 2017.
After the disaster, however, the fire brigade itself was also accused of failure. She initially asked the residents of the burning tower to stay in their apartments. A complete evacuation of the skyscraper was only ordered after two hours.
“A lot of people who survived are people who got out early because they ignored the advice to ‘stay where you are’,” said 25-year-old Tiago Alves, who died with his father, mother and sister escaped from the flames.