Who is to blame for the London blaze?

At least twelve people have died in the fire that engulfed London's Grenfell Tower early on Wednesday morning. Prime Minister May has announced a thorough investigation into the causes of the blaze, promising that measures would be taken if there are any lessons to be learned from the tragedy. Europe's commentators are already pointing to a series of mistakes that led to the tragedy.

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Webcafé (BG) /

A shocking state of affairs

Shoddy renovation work made a tragedy of this scale possible in the first place, writes Webcafé:

“The outside of the building was covered with highly flammable insulation material. … Couldn't it have been made less flammable, or couldn't they have used a different material that was more fire-resistant? In the course of the renovations some of the elements meant to prevent fires from spreading from floor to floor were removed. It remains unclear whether they were reinstalled. After the fire the company that carried out the renovations removed the relevant information from its website. … The fire alarm didn't go off and the only emergency exit for the 500 residents was via a single stairway. Clearly people turned a blind eye here to save money.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

The next tragedy is waiting to happen

In Deutschlandfunk's view the authorities are partially to blame for the tragedy:

“There's no escaping the conclusion that negligence played a role. If the fire prevention mechanisms had functioned properly this disaster would never have happened. ... According to one architect, pennies are pinched and services outsourced wherever possible. Fire safety plans are often authorised by private inspectors. Another such fire in a London tower block occurred in 2009, just south of the Thames, but little was learned from it. The negligence will continue until considerably more money is invested. It's just a matter of time until the next tragedy.”

The Independent (GB) /

Social housing policy has failed

Politicians have neglected the subject of housing despite many serious deficits, The Independent complains:

“Britain's approach to social housing has for too long been wanting. Not only has the stock of social housing in this country become depleted, but its management appears in some instances to leave residents unclear about who is responsible for the homes they live in. Local authorities might own the property; but its management will usually be in the hands of a discrete company. They in turn often outsource specific maintenance tasks. Where does the buck stop? It has also been noted that a review of building regulations concerning fire safety was promised by the Government last year but never took place.”