What started the Grenfell Tower fire? How cladding and a Hotpoint fridge contributed to the London tower block disaster

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A HORRIFIC inferno that tore through Grenfell Tower in West London left 72 people dead in June 2017.

An inquiry began hearings in May 2018 to investigate the cause of the tragedy and individual hearings will begin May 21. Here's what we know so far.

 Dozens died in a fire which tore through a West London tower block in minutesReuters Dozens died in a fire which tore through a West London tower block in minutes

What happened in the London fire?

A large fire broke out just after 1am on Wednesday June 14, 2017.

It is believed to have started on the fourth floor, before it quickly spread to the whole building.

At least 350 people were thought to be inside when the blaze began and some were still trapped hours later.

Desperate residents were heard screaming for help and horrified witnesses said they could see people waving sheets out of the windows, with some jumping from the building.

The blaze was not brought under control until 1.14am on Thursday June 15, some 24 hours after it started.

Police later confirmed 72 people died in the fire, after victims Syrian refugee Mohammed Al Haj Ali, 23, and 24-year-old Khadija Saye were first named.

What started the Grenfell Tower fire?

Kensington and Chelsea London borough council built Grenfell Tower in 1974.

In May 2017,  an £8.6million refurbishment was completed by Rydon Construction, as part of a wider transformation of the estate.

Work included new exterior cladding, replacement windows and a communal heating system.

A Hotpoint FF175BP fridge freezer in a fourth floor flat was blamed for starting the deadly blaze.

After an investigation, the fridge-freezer has been deemed a low risk.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced the review's findings that “the product met legal safety requirements and that the risk associated with the model is assessed as low”.

 The gutted remains of the building after the fire raged through the tower block in the early hours of June 14Reuters The gutted remains of the building after the fire raged through the tower block in the early hours of June 14

How did cladding contribute to the London tower block disaster?

After witnesses said flames spread up the exterior cladding, an urgent review of tower block safety was launched.

Fire safety experts believe the blaze spread so quickly because of cladding installed in the refurb.

It had a metal outer coating and an expanded polyethylene foam interior which is less fireproof than other types available.

Dr Roth Phylaktou, an expert in fire investigation, said: “The polyethylene in the cladding would have burnt as quickly as petrol.”

Ray Bailey, managing director at Harley Facades Limited, which installed the cladding, said: "At this time, we are not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower."

It has also been suggested the gap between building and cladding created a "chimney effect", sending heat and flames shooting up and around the outside of the tower.

Theresa May has pledged £400million to remove all Grenfell-style cladding from high rises.

In May 2018, the inquiry began with 72 seconds of silence in tribute to the victims of the disaster who included a stillborn baby.

The devastating blaze was described as "the city's greatest tragedy since World War Two" in a powerful statement by chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

BBC Panorama: Grenfell Tower's cladding was cheaper and less fire-resistant

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