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Inquest Opens into Lakanal House Fire

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Three women and three children, including a three-week-old baby, lost their lives when a blaze broke out on the ninth floor of Lakanal House in Camberwell in July 2009. A faulty television was found to have been responsible for the fire, which spread rapidly through the block trapping the victims on the 11th floor of the building. The inquest will examine why the flames were able to spread so quickly and whether the layout of the block and the refurbishments that had been made to it over the years had any impact. It will also question why firefighters issued the order for residents to remain in their homes and wait for rescuers to arrive rather than evacuating them straight away.

A change in fire safety legislation could result from the inquest, particularly if there are found to be similar problems and inadequacies in other tower blocks. Indeed, there are concerns that too many blocks of flats have not been properly assessed for fire safety and could pose a serious risk to life in the event of a blaze. David Sibert, an adviser to the Fire Brigades Union, told the Independent newspaper: "The quality of too many fire risk assessments remains poor. "Too often they are carried out by people who lack appropriate knowledge. To do it properly it is necessary to get into the hidden parts of a building, behind walls and into ceiling spaces."

The inquest is expected to last until the end of March and will be held at Lambeth Town Hall. It comes after the Crown Prosecution Service decided last year that there would be no charges of manslaughter brought in the case of Lakanal House.An inquest into the deaths of six people who were killed in a fire at a block of flats in London more than three years ago is due to take place today (January 14th).