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The Grenfell Tower Tragedy, London, 2017 - A community bereaved

Jacky Chapman | United Kingdom

Toxic smoke pollutes London. The Grenfell Tower fire occurred on 14 June 2017 at the 24-storey, 220-foot-high, Grenfell Tower block of public housing flats in North Kensington, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, West London.
On 16 November, following months of forensic investigations inside the burnt out shell of the tower, the death toll was confirmed at 71. This included Logan Gomes, who was stillborn on the day of the fire. Her heavily pregnant mother, escaped from the 21st floor, but suffered severe smoke inhalation on her way down.

'A Community bereaved' documents the Grenfell community immediately following the devastating inferno of 14th June 2017, when 71 souls were lost.

Built in 1974, Grenfell Tower comprised 120 homes. Like many UK towers, the sole fire escape was a single central staircase. Between 2012-16 Grenfell Tower was renovated, including new windows, aluminium composite rain screen cladding and heating systems. The local council continued to receive fire safety complaints from residents. Of on-going concern, was the single staircase.

Emergency services received the first alarm at 00:54 BST. Approximately 250 firefighters and 70 engines were deployed to battle the blaze that burned for 60 hours.

In the subsequent days, while photographing beneath the burnt out shell, I found it emotionally heartbreaking to witness the tragedy that many predicted.The images capture a selfless multi-cultural community response, infinite donations, and a troubling psychological mixture of shock, grief, anger and resolve. The series concludes six months after the event on 14th December at St Paul’s Cathedral’s service of ‘remembrance, hope and unity’.

 

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