by WorldTribune Staff, June 20, 2017
UK officials since 1999 had warned of the risks of using environmentally friendly exterior insulation on buildings, only to be ignored by environmentalists.
A blog post by the Grenfell Action Group in November 2016 warned that “only a catastrophic event” would bring attention to the issue.
That “catastrophic event” materialized in the early morning hours of June 14 in an inferno that engulfed the Grenfell Tower high-rise in Kensington, west London.
There are almost 30,000 similarly clad buildings across the United Kingdom.
The environmental cladding created what The Telegraph called a “chimney” effect that caused the fire to spread rapidly upwards. The blaze was initially sparked by a faulty refrigerator, officials said.
Fire officials told The Telegraph they were shocked at how fast the fire spread.
“I have never seen a fire that has engulfed an entire building like this in a career of more than 30 years,” Matt Wrack, who heads the Fire Brigades Union, said.
“It could be that this is the quest for sustainability trumping other concerns,” echoed Dr. Jim Glockling of the Fire Protection Association.
“There has been an emerging body of evidence surrounding some of the materials being used and now we have an appalling demonstration of what can happen,” Glockling said.
Grenfell Tower was clad in the environmentally friendly exterior in 2015 as part of a $13 million retrofit. The cladding is used to make buildings more energy sustainable and meet “green energy” regulations.
“It’s not a stretch to say that environmentalists were partly responsible,” Robert Gehl wrote for The Federalist Papers Project on June 15. “Government officials cautioned against the risks of cladding since at least 1999, according to The Telegraph. This is the tragic consequence of not heeding those warnings.”