Lon­don fire sur­vivors FEEL ‘Anger AND be­trayal’

Inquiry opens to look at ev­i­dence ‘ra­tio­nally’

Las Vegas Review-Journal - - WORLD - By Jill Law­less The As­so­ci­ated Press

LON­DON— A gov­ern­ment-or­dered inquiry into the Lon­don tower fire that killed at least 80 peo­ple opened Thurs­day with a minute of si­lence for the vic­tims — and with its leader ac­knowl­edg­ing that sur­vivors feel a “great sense of anger and be­trayal.”

Re­tired judge Martin Moore-bick said he hoped his in­ves­ti­ga­tion would “pro­vide a small mea­sure of so­lace” by dis­cov­er­ing how such a dis­as­ter could oc­cur in 21st-cen­tury Lon­don, and pre­vent­ing it hap­pen­ing again.

The June 14 blaze be­gan in a re­frig­er­a­tor in an apart­ment at Grenfell Tower be­fore rac­ing through the 24-story build­ing. One as­pect of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion will be the role of com­bustible alu­minum cladding in­stalled dur­ing a re­fur­bish­ment to the 1970s tower block. Emer­gency safety checks have un­cov­ered scores of other build­ings across Bri­tain with sim­i­lar cladding.

The fire was Bri­tain’s dead­li­est in more than a cen­tury, and pro­voked in­tense grief and anger. Many res­i­dents ac­cuse of­fi­cials in Kens­ing­ton and Chelsea, one of Lon­don’s rich­est bor­oughs, of ig­nor­ing their safety con­cerns be­cause the pub­licly owned tower build­ing was home to a largely im­mi­grant and work­ing-class pop­u­la­tion.

Moore-bick said he was aware that “for­mer res­i­dents of the tower and lo­cal peo­ple feel a great sense of anger and be­trayal.”

“That is en­tirely nat­u­ral and un­der­stand­able,” he said. “But if the inquiry is to get to the truth of what hap­pened, it must seek out all the ev­i­dence and ex­am­ine it calmly and ra­tio­nally.”

Moore-bick’s inquiry will look at causes of the blaze, the re­sponse of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and the coun­try’s high-rise build­ing reg­u­la­tions. But some sur­vivors are crit­i­cal be­cause it will not in­ves­ti­gate wider is­sues around so­cial hous­ing in Bri­tain that many res­i­dents had wanted to in­clude.

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