Bees, gulls and Grenfell fire

On the pavement outside our house is a tiny bit of dirt beneath a lone tree. The council usually spray the pavement and after years of losing plants this way I now have a sign there.

I was delighted today to find two bees feeding from this tiny garden. You can see one of the bees in this next photo on the far left. It just goes to show that even the tiniest of spaces can become food for wildlife. And isn’t this much nicer than concrete?

A gull is nesting on our roof between some chimney pots. You can just make out the end of its tail in this photo which I’ve annotated with a red box to make clear where the she is. She’ll be sitting on some eggs.

Today marks five years since the Grenfell Tower fire that killed 72 people. The Stories of our Times podcast has a harrowing podcast about it. I didn’t realise at the time but the guidance from first responders was to stay put – they actually discouraged people from evacuating.

One young man ignored this advice. 16-year-old Zac Wahabi grabbed his sister and told his parents he was leaving and they could follow if they wanted. He carried his sister downstairs including past two firefighters who told him to return to his flat. He ignored them. His parents followed and they all survived. Other people could have evacuated safely at this time had they also ignored the advice but by the time the official guidance was changed and people were encouraged to leave it was too late and the stairwell was choked with smoke and dangerously hot. It’s tragic.

The reason the official guidance was to stay put is these high rise apartment blocks are designed to contain fires to within individual flats. However the cladding installed on this block of flats in 2015-2016 was highly flammable allowing the fire to spread. I think if you can smell smoke and see flames out the window then it’s probably not contained and it’s time to leave. But it takes a lot of courage to reject the official guidance as this young man did.

If you listen to part 2 of the podcast you’ll feel angry because it’s about the shocking greed and flagrant disregard of safety by the companies involved in the 2015-2016 renovations. There’s an ongoing investigation.

I’m a little more cognisant of fire risks since our own recent fire. Indeed I had my first nightmare about the event last week. I woke up at about 4am thinking I could smell smoke. I leapt out of bed and ran downstairs. My eyes were still blurry from having just been asleep so at first I thought I could see smoke. But as I woke up I realised I could neither see or smell any smoke and it was just a dream. I imagine the survivors of Grenfell would have been traumatised by the event for some time afterwards and I wonder if they still have nightmares today about it?

One response to “Bees, gulls and Grenfell fire”

  1. The Guardian (I think it was) had a Long Read on the problem with cladding safety standards being set by the manufacturers themselves because they are the people with the most knowledge on how it works. There isn’t another body with the funding to police them.
    How heroic that young man was and how sad that people lost their lives so needlessly

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