Local residents warned of the potential fire risk in London's Grenfell Tower apartment block nearly 18 months before the complex was engulfed in a giant blaze, saying they feared people could be trapped inside if a fire broke out.
- The Grenfell Action Group said it was worried people would be trapped if fire broke out in the tower block
- It's still not clear how many people were unable to get out as the fire took hold
- The block was undergoing refurbishment which could have blocked exits
Former chairman of the building's residents' association David Collins told the ABC he and other residents had repeatedly pushed for an investigation into the "incompetent" tenant management organisation.
"There were fire and security concerns. You look at the Grenfell Action Group (GAG) blog," he said on Wednesday.
"We used to joke that it would take a tragedy before they would do anything."
"At the end of 2015, beginning of 2016 we carried out a survey. 90 per cent of residents asked for an independent investigation into the tenant management organisation.
"68 per cent of residents believed that they had been threatened, harassed, lied to or pressured by the aforementioned organisation or its contractors."
Mr Collins, who moved out of the building in October, 2016, said the risk of fire was only one concern for residents.
"At the time fire was down the list (of concerns). They couldn't even get the floor numbering right. They couldn't service and have the lifts operable," he said.
"I raised fire concerns with the director of regeneration Peter Maddison, of the current management organisation, about the location of boilers that were above fuse boxes.
"He refused to investigate and asked me to do it for him."
In a blog post dated January 24, 2016, the GAG said a build-up of rubbish during development works posed a serious fire risk.
"It has been very clear for some time to the residents of Grenfell Tower that those responsible for ensuring the smooth running of Lancaster West Estate are failing in their duty of care and wilfully allowing our residential amenity to decline in unacceptable ways," the post reads.
"Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in our landlords' failure to deal with a serious health and safety issue that recently developed at the entrance/exit to Grenfell Tower.
"This matter is of particular concern as there is only one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during the Improvement Works and the potential for a fire to break out in the communal area on the walkway does not bear thinking about as residents would be trapped in the building with no way out!"
It added that at the time, the tenant management organisation (TMO) allowed rubbish — including old mattresses — to build up in the temporary foyer, and while some residents were to blame for dumping rubbish, it was due to improvement works cutting off elevator access to the ground level.
In another post on November 2016, the GAG appeared to anticipate today's fire.
"It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord," it wrote.
The group detailed several earlier fires in tower blocks that it said should have acted as a warning to the management group.
"The Grenfell Action Group predict that it won't be long before the words of this blog come back to haunt the KCTMO management and we will do everything in our power to ensure that those in authority know how long and how appallingly our landlord has ignored their responsibility to ensure the health and safety of their tenants and leaseholders.
"They can't say that they haven't been warned!"
In a new post published in the wake of the blaze, the GAG sent its condolences to victims, and listed prior posts warning about "very poor fire safety standards" in the tower.
"All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time," it wrote.
The GAG describes itself as "working to defend and serve the Lancaster West community".
It says it was formed in 2010 to oppose developments on Lancaster Green, which neighboured Grenfell Tower
London Mayor wants answers
Some residents of the building said they had been advised to stay in their flats in the event of a fire.
Citing that and the GAG's concerns, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said questions would need to be answered over the safety of the city's tower blocks.
"These questions are really important questions that need to be answered," Mr Khan told BBC Radio.
"Across London we have many, many tower blocks and what we can't have is a situation where people's safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained."
Grenfell Tower underwent recent refurbishment
The Grenfell Tower was consumed by a fire which broke out around 1:00am local time on Wednesday.
It was not clear how many residents managed to escape but witnesses said they heard people calling for help as fire took hold.
The construction firm that recently refurbished the tower said its work "met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards".
Rydon completed a refurbishment project in 2016 on behalf of the local authority to modernise the exterior of Grenfell Tower, which saw new cladding and windows installed.
One witness to the blaze said the re-cladding appeared to speed up the fire's movement to the upper floors.
Grenfell Towers was built in 1974. It contained 120 homes and housed more than 200 people.