A BLAZE on the scale of the Grenfell Tower Fire broke out around 5:30pm local time on Sunday at the Torre dei Moro building on via Giacomo Antonini in the southern outskirts of Milan, and was tackled by 15 fire engines and over 100 emergency service personnel.
Evacuees from the burning Milan tower block compared the blaze to Grenfell after its ‘fire-proof’ cladding ‘melted like butter’.
Fears are now growing that the 20-storey apartment block could collapse after the fire blazed through the outer shell, making it less stable.
One of the building’s residents said that people were assured the panels covering the building were fire-resistant.
‘We were told that the panels that covered the building were fireproof, instead, they burned quickly like butter,’ the resident told the local press.
‘The technicians will do a check, but I remember perfectly well that they told us that the panels were fire resistant.’
Residents reported seeing debris falling off the cladding after the fire was thought to have broken out on the 15th floor.
Another resident added that they ‘didn’t imagine’ the tower would catch fire so quickly, but within half an hour it ‘looked like papier mache’ as the blaze tore through the floors.
The nearly 200 foot tall building, part of a 2012 development project, was designed to look like the keel of a ship and included an aluminium sail on its roof, which burned and fell to the street in pieces.
Carlo Sibia, an Interior Ministry official, said: ‘The cause of the fire still needs to be determined, but it seems that the rapid spread of the flames was due to the thermal covering of the building.’
Every tenant has reportedly been safely evacuated and accounted for, but firefighters are still conducting a thorough search of the building to ensure no one has been trapped.
Twenty tenants were checked on the scene by emergency services for smoke inhalation, but no hospitalisations have been recorded thus far.
Milan’s mayor, Beppe Sala, arrived on the scene after the fire to inspect the damage and ensure the safety of the tenants and firefighters.
He said: ‘The firemen are going from apartment to apartment, knocking down doors to make sure no one remains inside.
‘We are positive about the fact that there was time to get out, but until the check is done we cannot be sure.’
Sala said that there had been no reports of any victims in the fire so far, but some firefighters had sustained burns in their attempts to extinguish the flames.
Firefighters believe the fire started on an upper floor, collapsing the windows of the building’s facade and generating a column of smoke visible from miles away.