TOWER TRAP: Fire exits gone in renovations done last year
CONSTRUCTION plans for the London building that erupted in flames claiming at least 12 lives show the perilous maze residents had to navigate to make their way to the building's single fire escape.
A refurbishment of the Grenfell building in North Kensington saw the building not only kitted out in controversial cladding that could have caused the deadly blaze to spread so quickly, but also stripped of two of its fire exits.
Planning documents submitted to council between 2012 and 2014 show collection of compact living spaces packed in tightly together on each floor.
According to floor plans 120 apartments were jammed into the building's 24 storeys, all around a central elevator and fire escape.
Leading London fire and building inspector Geoff Wilkinson said that while having only one fire escape may have made the escape more difficult for some residents, it still should have been adequate.
"We can tell that reports (concerning fire safety) were made and the fire service had made inspections relatively recently," he told ABC radio.
"The question of having a single fire exit is not uncommon. It's certainly proved to be (adequate) in the past."
Refurbishment of the Grenfell Tower, originally built in 1974, was completed in May 2016 at a cost of $14.6 million.
Questions are being raised about what caused a London apartment block to turn into a blazing deathtrap, as witnesses reveal residents were advised to "stay put".
At least 12 people died on Wednesday when the building became engulfed in flames in a fire described by London's Fire Commissioner as "completely unprecedented".
Witnesses reported seeing a baby thrown out a window to safety to avoid the horror inside.
As many gathered outside evacuation centres to await news of loved ones, they reported people following official advice to stay inside, unaware of the true extent of the danger unfolding.
One resident who said he and his neighbours had complained about the building's safety for years said he considered the disaster "mass murder" as experts focused on the building's external cladding, fitted only a year ago, that could have turned the tower into a death trap.
Local media is reporting "nobody on the top three floors survived", crediting the claim to a local community leader.