RCA Society

Inferno on the Doorstep

After the night (13th June 2017) it happened I had walked out of my residential street to go on to the local Tube station to make an anticipated visit somewhere. However, although it was early morning I found I could hardly move anywhere long enough to be able to travel easily out of my area. The street  was mostly empty and cordoned off with police on bikes zooming protectively about. Further down past the North Kensington library I could see several fire engines quietly stationed with green and yellow ambulances on a standby. Nearer the public library I asked a spectator what was happening and he commented that there had been a fire--where?-- quite near to the Latimer Road Tube. So, I decided to move further around, and see what this was. Walking along, going past the Lancaster Leisure Centre, on the horizon,  I caught sight of a huge blackened-out tower block, with most of its windows missing. These windows revealed whole burnt-out interiors and badly-singed cladding.

Although the tower inferno had obviously raged the night-long through I could see little surviving flames still guttering  out from the lower floor windows.

But now it was mid-morning. TV camera-men were already in position: interviewing groups of mostly young people, squatting on the ground, obviously relating each their own version of what they had seen of the Disaster overnight. So then I was led on into the Latimer Road tube station area expecting proof of obvious stories of how there had been hurried rush-outs of residents from the Grenfell tower. As it was plainly to be seen that scores of people, especially on the upper floors, would have been left behind, trapped in the flames.

Next, further along behind the Latimer Christian Centre hurried along a series of relief workers and well-wishers carrying disaster provisions into and surrounding the Latimer Centre....then, ominously, going down a side street right up behind me was the Grenfell tower itself exhausted at last of burning flames  Too, the local ACAVA Studios was only 80 metres away from the tower also by now a source of distress to its staff with shoals of its ashes fallen onto their roofs. For the artists of ACAVA, too, there was the risk of smoke damage to their artworks......

But later on it was to be seen along lanes and alleys surrounding the Grenfell its survivors and local residents had arrived to lay avenues of homemade wreaths, bunches of flowers and memorial saint candles perpetually lit......


Story and photos: Lynne Beel ©2017