Botched renovations have been blamed for fuelling the Grenfell Tower fire, with a leaked report revealing there would have been “little opportunity” for flames to spread if the structure had not been renovated with combustible material.
According to the Metropolitan police report, the 2014-16 refurbishment of the building failed to meet fire safety standards and “deficiencies” in the new facade helped the fire to spread up the building’s exterior.
The fire, which started in a fridge-freezer in a fourth floor flat, travelled through a nearby open window before spreading via the external cladding.
The fire damage was so severe that had the tower been built to the less stringent requirements of existing building regulations “it is likely the tower would have collapsed”, the report allegedly said.
A total of 71 people died in the west London tower block fire on 14 June last year.
The report, by fire investigation experts BRE Global, was quoted as saying: “Grenfell Tower, as originally built, appears to have been designed on the premise of providing very high levels of passive fire protection.
“The original facade of Grenfell Tower, comprising exposed concrete and, given its age, likely timber or metal frame windows, would not have provided a medium for fire spread up the external surface.
“In BRE’s opinion … there would have been little opportunity for a fire in a flat of Grenfell Tower to spread to any neighbouring flats.”
The report dated 31 January was prepared as part of the police investigation into the fatal blaze. The document also identified flaws with the cavity barriers, window frames, “door closers” and flammable insulation and cladding.
Cavity barriers were installed back to front or upside down and were “insufficient” to bridge the gap between the surface of the building and the cladding, creating a chimney-like effect that aided the spread of flames.
Window frames were narrower than the gap they were placed in, meaning fire could spread around the frame, onto the building’s facade and back into other flats.
There was also a lack of “door closers”, meaning that when residents fled their flat doors stayed open, allowing the fire to spread into the lobby.
The absence of a sprinkler system and the narrow single internal stairwell also breached building regulations.
The report noted the waste chute rooms, located on every floor, were “largely undamaged” as fire doors protected them from the blaze.