Homicide charges possible over fire
LONDON: Manslaughter charges are among the offences under consideration in the devastating Grenfell Tower blaze that killed 79 people, police said yesterday.
In its most detailed briefing on the criminal investigation, Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack confirmed suspicions by residents that a fridge had sparked the June 14 blaze.
She also revealed that cladding placed on the building during a recent renovation had failed safety tests conducted by police in their investigation. Documents from a number of organisations have been seized.
“We are looking at every criminal offence from manslaughter onwards, at every health and safety and fire safety offences and reviewing every company involved in the building and refurbishment of Grenfell Tower,” she said.
The British government has ordered an immediate examination of the model of fridge. McCormack said the Hotpoint FF175BP fridge-freezer had not been subject to any product recalls. The fire spread quickly through the tower block, leading to concerns that cladding on the building did not meet fire-safety rules.
The investigation comes as authorities realise the fire will have national consequences for thousands living in tower blocks. Eleven buildings around Britain have the combustible cladding found in the Grenfell Tower.
The cladding is being studied amid fears that the panels fuelled the fire in the 24-storey building since it was engulfed in less than an hour.
Fears about cladding are not limited to apartment buildings.
At least one hotel chain is calling in experts to make certain it meets safety regulations.
McCormack repeated calls for anyone with information on who might have been in the tower to come forward after London mayor Sadiq Khan pledged to seek an amnesty for people living in the block illegally. – AP