12/12/2018 17:43 GMT

Grenfell Cladding Firm Claims Extinguisher Could Have Put Out Fatal Fire

US company blames windows for failing to contain the blaze in statement to public inquiry.

Yahoo News UK
An inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster has heard from the US firm which supplied cladding, blamed previously for accelerating the fatal blaze.

The company which supplied cladding wrapped around Grenfell Tower has said the fatal fire was propelled by other materials and that the flames could have been put out by a common fire extinguisher.

Arconic told an inquiry into the June 2017 disaster on Wednesday that it was possible no lives would have been lost in the blaze, in which 72 people died, had other aspects of the tower’s refurbishment been different.

According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, Stephen Hockman QC, a lawyer for the US industrial firm, said uPVC windows on the flat where the fire began as well as decorative cladding may have had more involvement in the speed at which the blaze spread.

He also suggested that basic firefighting techniques, such as the use of a common extinguisher, might have had success had the fire been contained in the fourth-floor flat.

The type of cladding supplied by Arconic for Grenfell is among those due to be outlawed in use on high-rise buildings next week.

The inquiry into the disaster heard previously that the fire rose 20 storeys in just 35 minutes in the early hours of 14 June last year. Other experts told the inquiry that the cladding supplied by Arconic acted as a conduit for the flames, which were seen leaping vertically by firefighters.

The Guardian reported that Hockman told inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick: “If the refurbishment of the interior window surrounds and the external envelope of the building had been carried out in a different way, it would have been possible for the firefighters to extinguish the fire in flat 16 before the fire even reached the cladding system.”

Moore-Bick announced on Tuesday that the second phase of the inquiry would not commence until 2020, to allow investigators to comb through some 200,000 documents.

An interim report into the cause of the disaster is due next spring.