London’s Grenfell Tower burned for over 24 hours, a massive and deadly blaze so intense, it swiftly charred nearly the entire 1,000-unit structure — consuming newly-installed aluminum outer panels and virtually anything in its path — leaving at least 17 dead, injuring scores more, and igniting a political firestorm in the process.
But the 24-story building — its apartments gutted beyond repair — did not crumble into its own footprint. It’s still standing.
In fact, according to several reports from the fire brigade on scene, several small fires inside Grenfell Tower remained smoldering well into today — the residential building’s charred sarcophagus now being investigated to determine cause — meaning, firefighters adhering to stringent safety precautions are perusing the severely crippled structure.
And it still hasn’t collapsed — nor should it have — because that would be nearly unprecedented. Nearly.
That the silhouette of Grenfell Tower still graces the skyline above its upscale neighborhood demands a telling comparison to a structure — World Trade Center Tower 7 — which free fell into its own footprint, as putative experts claimed in conclusion of investigations into the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Building 7, or WTC 7, has featured prominently in so-called conspiracy theories pertaining to the attacks as it stands — pardon the pun — one of the only steel-framed, concrete structures to have supposedly succumbed to office fires and collapsed straight to the ground, disintegrating into a pile of rubble.
Of course, why and how Building 7 collapsed, at all, remains a subject fraught with disputation — the 47-floor office complex experienced several smaller fires, as it sat in the shadow of the twin towers, which had taken direct hits from two commercial airlines flown by terrorists intent on bringing the buildings down.
But just seven hours into the myriad conflagrations, the office tower suddenly went into freefall — descending in seconds to its grave, despite a steel frame undamaged by airplanes or other falling structures — baffling countless architects and engineers.
“At 5:20 PM, the 47-story WTC 7 fell completely and symmetrically into its own footprint in the manner of a textbook controlled demolition,” Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth wrote earlier this year. “Seven years later, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) concluded that the collapse was due to normal office fires (which had never before brought down a steel-frame high-rise). But today thousands of architects and engineers are calling for a new investigation.”
While the suggestion the building more likely suffered a surreptitious, controlled demolition might seem conducive to tinfoil hats, the fact WTC 7 did not appear to experience major structural damage prior to its crumbling has not been sufficiently explained, to this day.
Because, the fact remains, towering structures — even those constructed back in the 1970s, like Grenfell Tower, circa 1974 — were engineered and built according to specifications ensuring even all-consuming fires could still facilitate escape to safety by as many people as possible.
Indeed, steel-framed high-rises should endure veritably anything, and while Grenfell Tower apparently lacked building-wide smoke detectors and sprinkler systems — among other ultimately fatal scrimps — the structure’s extensive fire damage did not cause an additional catastrophic collapse.
All 83 structural, vertical support columns, as architects and engineers from New Zealand noted, would have to have been severed at the same time to force such a collapse.
Were reports concluding Building 7 fell to the ground because office fires truly accurate, Grenfell Tower — consumed with intensely hot flames, estimated between 700 and 1,000 degrees centigrade, for over a day — should have suffered a similar fate, falling into its own footprint, 24 floors crushing into one another on its way to the ground.
The Address didn’t collapse — in fact, it’s not only still standing, its structural integrity remained intact enough to be restored and is in use today.
Another monstrous fire in a Lanzhou skyscraper, in China’s Gansu Province, last Sunday also failed to demolish the building.
Building 7, thus, stands as a veritable lone testament — a sore thumb — among numerous other all-consuming blazes tragically taking human, but not structural, victims.
So, while Grenfell Tower’s burnt-out frame still haunts the London-area skyline, its demolishment seems likely only to come from a planned, structural, controlled demolition — should one be planned.
Yet, World Trade Center 7 — which incidentally housed offices of the CIA, the IRS, the U.S. Secret Service, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other prominent government and banking establishments — will never again grace new postcards displaying the iconic skyline of New York City.