London fire survivors FEEL ‘Anger AND betrayal’
Inquiry opens to look at evidence ‘rationally’
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.