High-rise inferno in Milan compared to Grenfell

Parallels are being drawn with the Grenfell Tower disaster in London as Italian authorities investigate a fire that devastated an apartment block in Milan on Sunday night, with the focus on the building’s cladding.

esidents and witnesses said the blaze spread at an alarming rate and the cladding on the 18-storey tower “melted like butter”. Authorities say it is a miracle no one was killed or seriously hurt.

Unlike in London, where 71 people died after being told to stay in their flats and await help, all the inhabitants of the Torre dei Moro building were evacuated, with firefighters going door-to-door to make sure no one was inside.

At Grenfell, the cladding was blamed for the speed at which the flames engulfed the tower. The blaze in Milan appears to have started on the 15th floor of the modern apartment block, which was completed in 2010.

The fire may have been started by an electrical short circuit. The apartment in which it began was empty because the owners were on holiday, giving the blaze time to spread to other flats.

The large gap between the main structure of the building and its cladding panels created a “chimney effect”, fuelling the blaze with currents of air, experts said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in Milan before,” said Giuliano Santagata, the head of the city’s fire service.

“If you look at the facade, you see that everything is completely burned, and therefore presume that it was made of flammable material.”

The parents of a young Italian couple who died in the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster said there were alarming parallels between the two fires. “Nothing has changed, it seems that some people don’t want to learn from others’ mistakes,” said Gianino Gottardi, the father of Marco Gottardi (27), who died along with his girlfriend, Gloria Trevisan (26).

“Four years ago, I was in front of the television watching the flames devour Grenfell Tower. On Sunday, it was like reliving that moment, only that instead of London it was Milan.

Giuseppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, said: “What seems already clear from the start is that the external cladding of the building went up in flames far too quickly, in a dynamic that recalls Grenfell Tower.” (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2021)

Telegraph Media Group Limited [2021]

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