Tower blocks turn green to mark first anniversary of Grenfell Tower fire

In the early hours of 14 June 2017, a small kitchen fire in the west London high-rise turned into the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War.

The latest figures show that 68 families will spend the anniversary in emergency accommodation, mainly hotels.

Kensington and Chelsea Council says 52 households are in temporary accommodation and 83 families are in permanent homes – and it has declined to reveal how many people are living in or outside the borough.

The 13 buildings were illuminated at 12.54am on Thursday – exactly 12 months on from the first 999 call reporting the blaze.

They will remain illuminated until 5am, and will be lit up again from 8pm until midnight for the next four evenings.

A private vigil is being held at St Clement’s Church, where the names of the 72 victims were read out at 1.30am.

Later this morning, a service of remembrance will be held at St Helen’s Church – and 73 doves will be released outside the place of worship.

Clarrie Mendy, who lost two relatives in the fire and organised the event, said: “Why 73 instead of 72? One for the unknown. If there were more than 72, we will put one for the unknown.”

At midday, a moment of silence will be observed by survivors and the bereaved, who will gather close to the tower’s base as well as across the country.

In the afternoon, the community is expected to congregate at the nearby “Wall of Truth” ahead of a silent march which will set off at about 7pm.

Families will then come together for a community Iftar to break bread with those fasting over Ramadan.

Yvette Williams, from the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign group, said: “I think we kind of almost move from ‘did it really happen at all?’ to ‘it feels like it happened yesterday’, to looking at the struggles the bereaved families and survivors have had over the year (and realising) that it is actually a year.

“We want the nation to keep Grenfell in their consciousness. The anniversary is about love and support – the fight can start again on Friday and Saturday.”

Grenfell Tower is now completely covered by white sheeting. Banners featuring the words “Grenfell forever in our hearts” are emblazoned across the four highest floors.

The community began their 24-hour vigil on Wednesday evening. As relatives sat together in the street, a Tube driver stopped his train on a bridge overlooking them and held up a green banner in support, to the cheers of the crowd.

Some of those affected by the fire have spoken to Sky News to mark the first anniversary.

“He liked his flat very much, it was very pretty and newly furnished,” said Daniella Burigotto, the mother of architect Marco Gottardi, who died that night with girlfriend Gloria Trevisan, also an architect.

“We were all completely unaware of how it had been renovated. It is really horrible finding these things out afterwards. If Marco had known beforehand he’d never have agreed to an apartment of that type.”

Ms Trevisan’s mother Emanuela Disaro said her daughter “loved a lot”.

“She loved life, she loved the company of others, she loved her family, she loved everyone. She loved a lot.

“When I have finished my journey on this earth, I will meet her again. I want to believe there is a place where we all will be reunited. The question is when.”

Zoe Levack, who lives in the community, started the Kids on the Green project to provide activities and psychological help for young people affected by trauma.

She said there is still anger in the community over the response to the fire – adding that most are not “doing particularly well” as the anniversary is marked.

“We’ve been trying to get on with our lives but this atrocity has taken over all of our lives,” she said. “There’s a huge amount of post-traumatic stress in the community. I think a lot of people are going to be falling apart.”

Michelle Widdrington, a mother who also works with the project, said: “The things we saw that night, we were not meant to see.

“You saw people screaming for help and you know they didn’t make it out and that’s a really hard thing to deal with for everyone.”

It comes as Theresa May offered a personal apology for not meeting survivors of the tragedy on her first visit to Grenfell Tower.

She said it was something she would “always regret”.


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