Fridge freezer wiring blamed for Grenfell Tower blaze

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The Grenfell Tower fire was most likely started by overheating in the wiring within a fridge freezer, an expert has said.

Dr John Duncan Glover concluded last year’s June 14 blaze probably began in the Hotpoint FF175BP in the kitchen of Flat 16.

A public inquiry into the disaster was on Tuesday shown a picture of the tiny wire connector thought to have overheated and started the fire, which quickly spread, eventually killing 72 people.

Investigators recovered the evidence from a small relay compressor compartment at the bottom rear of the fridge freezer.

Tower block fire in London
The kitchen in flat 16 where the fire started (Grenfell Tower Inquiry/PA)

Electrical fire expert Dr Glover highlighted the “poor crimp connection”, which did not keep the wires tightly gripped as it was supposed to.

The principal engineer at Failure Electrical, a firm which investigates electrical failures, said spaces seen in images taken from CT scans indicated it had not been “properly crimped”.

“I found voids in all 80 cross-sections indicating the crimp was not nice and tight,” he said.

Tower block fire in London
The door to Flat 16 (Grenfell Tower Inquiry/PA)

He said: “The overheating connector in my opinion was the first event that started burning the insulation on the wires that led to a short circuit.”

Dr Glover added: “The overheating of the crimp starts the fire.

“It overheats, it glows, it ignites.”

Whirlpool said its own investigation also found the model of fridge freezer showed no evidence of any fault and confirmed it fully complied with all safety requirements.

“We would like to reassure owners of these products that they are safe and they can continue to use them as normal,” the firm said in a statement.

“All fridges, freezers, and fridge freezers across all our UK brands – including Hotpoint, Indesit and Whirlpool – are manufactured with solid metal or aluminium laminate flame-retardant back panels.”

Earlier this year, consumers were advised they can carry on using the Hotpoint FF175B model after it was assessed as posing a “low risk” following an independent investigation.

Dr Glover said refrigerators manufactured in the United States must have their back casing made from metallic steel, whereas plastic can be used in the UK and Europe.

“That metallic backing would help to contain an internal fire, keep it inside the refrigerator, for a long time,” he said.

“Instead of the plastic casing on the rear, which is combustible, contributing to the fire, you have a steel casing which is not.”

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