Smoke ‘poured’ from lights years before London tower fire

The charred remains of the Grenfell Tower in West London. More than 200 people were believed to have been living in the building when it caught fire.

Anguished residents of the Grenfell Tower reported smoke 'pouring' from light fittings in the years before the block was engulfed by flames.

Fire chiefs are currently in the process of investigating the massive fire that ripped through the Grenfell Tower in West London, killing and injuring many.

The speed at which the fire tore through the residential tower block has shocked firefighters who were despatched to tackle the blaze.

Authorties are now searching for answers, however, a chilling warning left by the tower’s residents on the community's Wordpress site, may offer some clues.

In a post titled ‘Grenfell Tower – From Bad to Worse’, the block's residents, in an article posted on 29 May 2013, report that they had ‘woken to find smoke issuing from various electrical appliances in their homes, including light fixtures.’

The problem was, reportedly, being caused by an emergency temporary electrical by-pass supply that had been installed before necessary follow-up works were carried out.

The 29 May entry is followed by a string of posts that detail problems with the building's electricals and with emergency systems.

‘It is very clear at this stage that the electrical supply to Grenfell Tower has been in a very dangerous condition for several weeks. It is equally clear that the authorities had been repeatedly warned of this but had failed to react with sufficient urgency and had failed to take adequate remedial measures,’ the 2013 post on the Grenfell Action Group’s website continues.

The tower did undergo a multi-million pound refurbishment in 2016, but it is not clear if the residents concerns were mollified by the work.

However, the latest post on the site, uploaded in the immediate hours following the fire, suggest this was not the case.

‘All our warnings fell on deaf ears,’ the post dated 14 June 2017 states. ‘We predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.’

Investigations by the Fire Brigade and the Kensington and Chelsea Council will now have to ascertain if the emergency lighting was up to code and if it worked during the blaze.

There have been reports that people were forced to fight their way out of the building in complete darkness.

It is known, however, that a 2012 health and safety review found that firefighting equipment in the tower had not been checked for up to four years. It was also discovered that fire extinguishers in the basement boiler room, lift motor room and ground floor electrical room were more than 12 months out of date.

Complaints were also, reportedly, made by Grenfell residents about the poor illumination of emergency exits in the tower.

More than 200 people were believed to have been living in the building when it caught fire.


  • The Emergency Lighting conference, organised by Lux, takes place on Wednesday  28 June 2017 in central London. Places are free to those with responsibility for the specification and management of emergency lighting networks. Register for your place here.