Europe

Milan building fire ‘reminiscent’ of Grenfell disaster, officials say

Italian firefighters are still tackling a major fire at a 20-story apartment building in Milan but said there was no indication that anyone was missing inside.

The blaze was first reported on Sunday by a resident, who sounded the alarm and urged others to evacuate. Some cases of smoke inhalation were reported, but no serious injuries or deaths.

Authorities said they were working to extinguish the remaining flames on Monday and continuing to search the towerblock.

Firefighting official Giuliano Santagata said the blaze was under control, although there were still outbreaks in some apartments.

The mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, has visited the scene and said the blaze was “reminiscent” of the deadly Grenfell Tower fire in London.

At least 72 people were killed in the blaze at a high-rise residential tower in west London in 2017 — the greatest loss of life in a fire on British soil since World War II.

Flammable cladding on the outside of that building was blamed for the speed at which the fire engulfed the block, and officials in Italy have noted similar issues in the Milan fire.

“I have never seen a situation like this,” said Santagata, adding that firefighters had also suffered burns from the fire.

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

Firefighters broke through doors apartment by apartment in search of anyone left inside and contacted any residents who remained unaccounted for.

“There is no evidence of anyone missing,” said commander Felice Iraca. Italian prosecutors are also investigating if there was any indication of wrongdoing.

“The cause of the fires still needs to be determined, but it seems that the rapid spread of the flames was due to the thermal covering of the building,” said Carlo Sibia, an Interior Ministry official in Rome.

Residents of the building in Milan included Italian rapper Mahmood, who was the 2019 winner of the San Remo music festival. Those affected have been offered temporary accommodation, according to the mayor.

“Our city experienced hours of deep concern about the flames that engulfed the Torre del Moro in the Vigentino district,” Sala said on Facebook.

“We assisted the families who did not have accommodation for the night, offering them hotel accommodation. In the coming hours, we will work to ensure that residents receive all the support they need.”

The 60-metre tall building, part of a decade-old development project, was designed to look like the keel of a ship and included an aluminium sail on its roof, which burned and fell to the street in pieces.

“What was clear from the outset was that the building’s outer shell went up in flames far too quickly, in a manner reminiscent of the Grenfell Tower fire in London a few years ago,” said Sala.

“The judiciary is already working to clarify the dynamics of the incident. My hope is that responsibility will be established quickly,” he added.

“The Torre del Moro was built just over 10 years ago and it is unacceptable that such a modern building should have proved totally vulnerable.”

The Grenfell Tower fire has prompted inquiries and reviews into high-rise building materials, and Britain’s government has pledged to strip similar combustible cladding from dozens of other publicly owned tower blocks.

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