One of the most puzzling and worrying aspects of the terrible Grenfell Tower fire was the rapid spread of the fire through the building from the burning exterior cladding. Residents have pointed fingers at the exposed gas pipes running up the stairwell as a possible contributory factor:
New information may be significant in explaining how rapidly the fire spread and how long and hard firefighters had to battle to put out the blaze.
Local residents insist that they have been told, by gas engineers contracted to maintain gas infrastructure at the blocks owned by the KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation), that firefighters found the main gas entry valve to the block, which they would have expected to use to isolate the building from the main gas supply, concreted over and inaccessible.
Who might have been responsible for such a measure or why it might be done was not known, but the gas engineers insist it was not done by their company.
It is already a matter of record that firefighters were impeded in their attempts to access the building by parked cars and bollards. If the valve was inaccessible, this would have cost vital additional time to reach, giving the fire a ready and highly-flammable fuel supply.
London Fire Brigade did not deny that the valve had been concreted when called to ask whether the reports were accurate, but instead asked to receive the question by email and then responded:
Due to the ongoing police investigation we are unable to respond to this query.
The Metropolitan Police responded similarly but, remarkably, suggested that confirmation might be available elsewhere.