South Korean building fuelled blaze killed 29 people

Vastavam web: Flammable materials on the outside of a South Korean building fuelled a major blaze that killed 29 people, experts said today, evoking comparisons with the Grenfell Tower disaster in London.The fire engulfed an eight-storey tower in the southern city of Jecheon, killing 29 people and injuring 29 more. 20 of the dead were found at a female sauna and others elsewhere in the building, which also houses a fitness centre and restaurants.The fire spread quickly upwards along the outside walls of the tower, which contained cheap but highly flammable finishing materials.

“There were three or four exploding sounds and I saw the fire on the ground floor quickly jump upwards along the outside walls,” said one eyewitness.It reportedly took only seven minutes for the entire building to be engulfed in smoke and flames.”Inflammable finishing materials have been a great source of problem in major blazes,” he said, citing the Grenfell Tower inferno in June that killed 71 people, among others.

The London fire started with a faulty refrigerator on the fourth floor of the building owned by the local authority, but rapidly spread up the 24-storey tower, which had new cladding on the outside.The painstaking process to identify all the remains took months and anger is still simmering among the survivors, with most awaiting permanent housing and voicing scepticism about an official inquiry.On Friday experts said stilted buildings such as the Jecheon fitness centre are especially vulnerable to fires that begin on the ground floor as staircases act like smoke stacks, making flames spread upwards quickly.