Grenfell fire: Only a miracle could have stopped inferno, says fire chief

Only a miracle would have stopped the inferno raging at Grenfell Tower, London's fire chief has said.

Firefighters did "the very best" they could on the night and many are suffering following the horrors they witnessed while tackling the blaze, Dany Cotton said.

The London Fire Commissioner defended the controversial advice for residents to stay put as the flames spread, insisting it was the right way to act in most cases.

Ms Cotton said the brigade did have "sufficient resources" at the scene and nothing else would have particularly helped in tackling the blaze.

Asked what would have made a difference, she told Channel 4 News: "A miracle. I genuinely don't think anything available to us as firefighters anywhere in the world would particularly have made a difference. We do need to look at it as part of the inquiry.

"People have come out with all different kinds of suggestions and there's all sorts of experts around. I think people need to let the inquiry play out. But from everything I've seen from a professional firefighter, I believe we did the very best we could on that night."

Critics have attacked the advice given to residents to remain in their flats when the fire broke out.

Ms Cotton said the instruction is the right one but the blaze at Grenfell Tower had not behaved normally.

She said: "Stay put advice for the vast majority of people living in high rise buildings is absolutely the best advice. If we evacuated every tower block every time there was a small fire, the firefighters would never get in to put the fire out because the staircases aren't designed to have hundreds of people coming down.

"If you have hundreds of people coming down, opening and closing doors, it can actually help fire or smoke spread throughout the building.

"What I can say very early on is that people were reporting smoke in the communal parts of the building. That is not how a building normally behaves in fire."

The best counselling available will be offered to firefighters, many of whom are struggling to deal with what they saw.

"I have lots of people who are suffering and will suffer in the future from things that happened that evening," she said.

Ms Cotton said it was "inevitable" that every organisation involved with be "subject to some form of criticism" but insisted she would "defend the actions of my firefighters on the night".

More on this topic

Two-year wait for Grenfell charges frustrating and disheartening, say survivors

Did the fire brigade fail? Grenfell documentary examines role of the service

Plans for radical overhaul of UK building regulations industry post-Grenfell

Stars team up with Grenfell survivors to launch new campaign

More in this Section

Investigation after elderly yellow vest protester injured in Nice

US lawmakers await details of Mueller's Russia report

German family to donate millions after hearing extent of Nazi past

Nicola Sturgeon: UK Government has no credible way forward


The most honest account you will ever read about the onset of the menopause

Working Life: Dr Carl Fagan, consultant in intensive care medicine, Beacon Hospital, Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner