South Tyneside high-rise safety inspections stepped up after London blaze horror

The Grenfell Tower is engulfed in flames (AP)
The Grenfell Tower is engulfed in flames (AP)

Safety inspections in South Tyneside’s high-rise blocks are to be stepped up after the horrific Grenfell Tower disaster.

At least 12 people died when flames tore through the 24-storey block in north Kensington on Tuesday night, leaving people trapped on upper floors - some holding babies out of windows and others jumping from their flats.

Fire tears through the Grenfell Tower (Natalie_Oxford/PA)

Fire tears through the Grenfell Tower (Natalie_Oxford/PA)

High-rise blocks in South Tyneside include Jarrow’s Ellen Court, Wilkinson court and Monastery Court.

A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic events in West London. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

“We take the safety of residents very seriously which is why we have spent a great deal of time over recent years ensuring fire safety in our high rise blocks.

“This has included raising awareness among residents and carrying out preventative works to reduce the potential impact of a fire in these buildings and to ensure public safety.

We are deeply saddened by the tragic events in West London. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

Council spokesman

“This is also one of the reasons why we took the decision to demolish Westmorland Court.

“In light of what has happened, we are working with our partners at South Tyneside Homes to step up our safety inspections and appraisals.

“We are also working with Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to highlight the fire risks related to issues such as smoking, chip pans and flammable materials as well as reminding residents of the evacuation procedures and the importance of security in our buildings.”

Some bodies have been removed from the smouldering remains of Grenfell Tower, which contains 120 flats thought to be home to between 400 and 600 people.

Westmorland Court

Westmorland Court

Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police said: “Sadly I can confirm that there are now 12 people that have died that we know of.

“This is going to be a long and complex recovery operation and I do anticipate that the number of fatalities will sadly increase beyond those 12.”

Steve Apter, director of safety and assurance at London Fire Brigade, said: “I can confirm I have had firefighters manage to get through particularly arduous conditions up to the top floor.”

London Fire Brigade said it had rescued 65 people from the building.

Mr Cundy added: “Whilst we may have accessed every floor that is not the same as a full search of the whole building, and as I said while we currently sadly have 12 fatalities, I do believe that figure will rise and sadly I don’t anticipate that there will be further survivors.”