Jun 14, 2018: Britain looks for answers from Grenfell Tower fire tragedy one year ago
UNITED KINGDOM - The first anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire in London sees the tragedy and unsettled questions about the blaze return to the headlines. With 71 confirmed victims, it ranked as the country’s deadliest fire in over a century.
The fire started in the kitchen of an apartment and spread rapidly through the 24-story, low-income high-rise. The residents had previously raised concerns about fire-safety issues in the tower.
A government-ordered public inquiry opened in Sep 2017. The head of the investigation, retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, promised that the investigation “can and will provide answers to the pressing questions of how a disaster of this kind could occur in 21st-century London.” He said he would not shrink away from making recommendations that could lead to prosecutions, according to the BBC, which notes that he has faced criticism for refusing to appoint a survivor to the inquiry panel.
The inquiry will be divided into two phases – the first will assess the cause of the fire and why it spread so rapidly. It is aimed at preventing tragedies in other high-rise buildings. The second phase will examine the design of the building and the response to the disaster.
Some 150 families lost their homes in the blaze, and they were resettled in hotels throughout London. Most still await resettlement in permanent homes.
The government answered the question of how the tragedy will be commemorated in March, announcing that the gutted and uninhabitable tower will become a permanent memorial to the victims.
Royal Family members and Prime Minister Theresa May joined survivors and families of the fire victims for a memorial service at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London on the six-month anniversary in December. Details of the official commemoration for the first anniversary can be expected nearer to the date.