London high-rise blaze raises new concerns about cladding

May 6, 2021, 6:05 PM | Updated: May 7, 2021, 7:22 am

LONDON (AP) — Fire broke out Friday in a London apartment tower which has cladding similar to that used on another housing block in the city where 72 people died in a 2017 blaze.

London Fire Brigade said about 125 firefighters tackled a fire that spread to three floors of a 19-story building in the city’s Docklands.

The fire brigade said “firefighters wearing breathing apparatus have carried out multiple rescues.” It said 38 adults and four children were treated by ambulance crews at the scene for shock and smoke inhalation, and two men were taken to a hospital for smoke inhalation.

Property developer Ballymore, which owns the building, said the blaze was “quickly brought under control.”

Ballymore has said 22% of the building’s façade is covered in aluminum composite cladding similar to that used on Grenfell Tower, which was destroyed in June 2017 in the deadliest domestic fire in the U.K. since World War II.

Investigators found that the flammable cladding helped a fire that started in an apartment kitchen at Grenfell race out of control.

Safety regulations brought in since then require similar dangerous cladding to be removed, but the work has not been carried out on some apartment towers because of wrangling over who should pay.

Survivors and relatives in the Grenfell United advocacy group said in a statement they were “horrified” by the new fire.

“When will the government take this scandal seriously? Enough is enough,” it said. “The government promised to remove dangerous cladding by June 2020 — it has completely failed its own target and every day that goes by lives are at risk.”

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London high-rise blaze raises new concerns about cladding