Residents 'warned of safety concerns' ahead of London tower block fire

Local residents had raised concerns about fire safety at Grenfell Tower for months ahead of the blaze, it has emerged.

Ahmed Chellat, who lives on the West London estate where the tower block is situated, told ITV's Good Morning Britain that residents had long warned of a fire risk at the block.

"We have raised concern of the safety for quite some time," he said, reflecting the anger of many residents.

"I'm not an expert, but I think it's the plastic they put on the outside [that] really triggered the fire badly."

Mr Chellat said he had seen the plastic bubbling and "exploding" in the heat of the blaze.

The cause of the fire in what is one of the largest residential blocks in north Kensington is not yet known.

A local campaigning group that highlighted safety concerns about the block also said their warnings had fallen on "deaf ears".

A blog post by the Grenfell Action Group from November 2016 said it would take a "catastrophic event" for the authorities to take notice of residents' concerns.

Following the fire, the group posted: "All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time."

In response the boss of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management, the company which manages the block, told ITV News that the company does "listen" to the concerns of people living there.

"We do listen, we have listened and that's what we're doing." Robert Black said.

"We had no expectation this would happen, we are absolutely devastated by it....

"It's a huge responsibility which we take seriously.

"What I have to work out now along with the investigation is find out what happened because everything we have done is in line with the building controls.

"The position of our fire safety strategy is in line with most other local authorities.

"We are working to make sure they are safe all the time."

When questioned why Grenfell Tower did not have sprinklers in it, Mr Black explained that since the building is not a new build, it is not required to have them in it.

The fire service has confirmed there have been a 'number of fatalities' Credit: PA

At least 12 people have died and 78 were injured in the fire, 18 of who are in critical conditions.

The tower block was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.7 million, with work completed in May last year.

The exterior of the 1970s-built tower was modernised with cladding and replacement windows, while additional homes were added using vacant space in the building.

According to Rydon Construction's website: "Externally, rain screen cladding, curtain wall facade and replacement windows were fitted, improving thermal insulation and modernising the exterior of the building."

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