LONDON Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has revealed teams of specialist dogs will be sent in to smouldering wreckage to search for victims of the Grenfell Tower blaze amid fears about its structural integrity.
The fire boss said firefighters will use an “internal shoring” process to build structures inside the 24-storey block to ensure it does not collapse. A “detailed fingertip” search is also underway for victims.
“Structures will need to be built to ensure the floors are safe. Before we do that we are going to use some specialist dog training teams,” she told media on Thursday.
“The benefit of using dogs is that they are much lighter than people and they can cover a greater area in a very short space of time.”
She said the search will be a “slow and painstaking process” that is expected to take “many days” to come. So far it’s believed the fire started on the lower floors of the building and the “flat of origin” has been accessed, she said.
Metropolitan police spokesman Stuart Cundy confirmed 17 people died in the inferno with the number expected to rise significantly. Emergency services have said it’s virtually impossible to know how many people were in the block of 120 flats on the night of the blaze.
‘UNLIKELY’ TO COLLAPSE
In West London the smouldering hulk continues to pour debris down on the surrounding area with increasing concern about the structural integrity of the building.
A collapse zone has been established around the property and UK Prime Minister Theresa May has promised a full public inquiry into what went wrong.
Structural engineering professor John Knapton said the building is “unlikely” to cave in given that it was built after a building code change following an earlier disaster.
“While there can be no guarantee than it won’t collapse, its unlikely,” he told The Telegraph.
“The building will have been built to be more robust, the building Regulations came into force in 1971 and any building in the design/planning stage has to comply.
It comes as shock turns to growing anger and demands for answers over whether the building had adequate fire safety features. Residents have pointed the finger at new cladding added in a multi-million dollar cosmetic refurbishment that quickly went up in flames.
The construction company behind the work insists it was all up to code, however experts have cited a “chimney” effect where fire can easily spread in gaps between the cladding and the building. Authorities have not yet determined the cause.
Locals have hailed the sense of community spirit amid the tragedy and heroic tales continue to emerge.
Marcio Gomes, 38, has revealed he took his pregnant wife Andreia down with their daughter before realising his other daughter was missing.
“I saw we had lost my daughter ... So I didn’t leave the block. I went back up to try and get her.
“We got separated from our daughter because we couldn’t see anything.
“She was halfway down. She had stopped. She couldn’t move any more and had fallen unconscious,” he told The Sun.