Milan Mayor Says Cladding Melted in Tower Block Blaze, as in London’s Grenfell

By Reuters
August 30, 2021 Updated: August 30, 2021

MILAN—The mayor of Italy’s financial capital Milan demanded answers on Monday over why a fire was able to rip through an apartment block and melt its cladding, comparing it to the Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 71 people four years ago.

Firefighters said everyone managed to escape the 18 story building in the south of Milan, which was gutted by the blaze that broke out on Sunday afternoon. Among the residents in the high rise building was rapper Mahmood, winner of the 2019 San Remo music festival with his international hit “Soldi.”

Italy Fire
Smoke billows from a building in Milan, Italy, on Aug. 29, 2021. (Luca Bruno/AP Photo)

Witnesses have said the fire, which started on the 15th floor, quickly surged through the outside cladding of the building. Video of the blaze showed panels melting off the building in liquefied clumps.

“The tower was built just over 10 years ago and it is unacceptable that such a modern building should have proved totally vulnerable,” Mayor Beppe Sala wrote on Facebook.

“What was clear from the start 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.”

Fire rages through Milan residential tower block
Blackened ruins of a block of flats are seen after a fire ripped through the building, in Milan, Italy, on Aug. 30, 2021. (Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)

The deaths in Britain’s Grenfell Tower fire were blamed on exterior cladding panels made of flammable material. Owners of flats in similar buildings across Britain have since been forced to remove such panels at a cost estimated to run into billions of dollars, forcing many residents into economic hardship.

By Crispian Balmer