The night of 24 June 2017 will always from now on be associated with an image worthy of catastrophe movies: the 62-meter-tall Grenfell Tower being devoured by flames and painting the sky red. The blaze was just the visible part of the tragedy that was being wrought within this apartment building for modest families, which ended with at least eighty deaths.
It is hard to find precedents in the recent history of London, so suspicions of negligence have been inevitable and numerous, especially considering that the building – raised in the year 1967 as part of the public network of dwellings for rent – underwent in 2016, just last year, a revamp that would make it “last another 100 years.”
This has of course not come to pass, and investigations seem to point to the possibility that the fire was caused by the use of polyethylene in the facades and the absence of sprinklers. City Hall has launched an inspection program that for now has involved relocating hundreds of affected people, a large part of them immigrants, and yielded the very disturbing finding that some 600 buildings in England are clad with a material similar to that used in the facades of Grenfell Tower. The situation is but a step away from fanning the flame of social protest.