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Survivors welcome 'strong' inquiry report into London Grenfell Tower fire

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Survivors welcome 'strong' inquiry report into London Grenfell Tower fire
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REUTERS
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Survivors of the catastrophic fire at London's Grenfell Tower have welcomed a "strong" inquiry report that found combustible cladding and poor firefighter training contributed to the scale of the disaster.

The findings "give us some confidence that our journey towards truth has finally begun," the Grenfell United pressure group said.

The blaze at Grenfell Tower, a 23-storey social housing block owned by one of London's richest local authorities, shocked Britain and threw up a range of disturbing questions about how the building had been allowed to become a tinderbox.

Highly flammable external decoration, installed as part of a refurbishment, was central to the chain of events in June 2017 that turned an ordinary kitchen fire into an inferno that killed 71 people, the official inquiry said in the first phase of its investigation, published Wednesday.

"In its origin, the fire at Grenfell Tower was no more than a typical kitchen fire," said Martin Moore-Bick, chairman of a public inquiry into the disaster, in a report on the first phase of investigations which focused on events on the night of the blaze.

He also highlighted failures by the London Fire Brigade, which he said had not learned lessons from previous tower blazes.

The LFB failed to lift the “stay put” advice when the stairs remained passable, which cost lives, he said, and evacuation plans should be developed for all high-rise buildings.

He also concluded that Behailu Kebede, in whose flat the fire started, was not at fault.

“We have been waiting a long time for this report," Grenfell United said. "One of the most worrying findings is Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s view that the LFB are currently an institution at risk of not learning the lessons from Grenfell.”

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, said the report "must finally be a turning point for fire safety in the UK."

"Warning after warning from previous fires were ignored," he said.

“We strongly refute the report’s assertion that it would have been possible or safe to evacuate more than 150 people via a narrow smoke-logged stairwell with just 30 firefighters. There is no evidence to suggest that this was possible."

He added: "The true culprits of the fire are those who wrapped the building in flammable cladding."

Later, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke about the report in the House of Commons. He said Grenfell Tower survivors and the bereaved were “overlooked and ignored” before the fire and “shamefully failed” after it.

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