One of the lowest apartments which is gutted by fire in the burnt Grenfell Tower apartment building standing testament to the recent fire in London, Friday, June 23, 2017. British officials have ordered an immediate examination Friday, into a fridge-freezer that is deemed to have started the fire. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
(Bloomberg) — A deadly fire that killed at least 79 people in a London tower block started in a Whirlpool Corp. fridge and spread at “unexpected speed” through the building’s exterior cladding, police said, indicating they’ll pursue charges if criminal offenses are identified.
“We are looking at every criminal offense from manslaughter onwards,” Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack said on Friday in a press briefing. That includes “health and safety and fire safety offenses, and we are looking at every company involved in the refurbishment of the building,” she said.
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The fire gutted Grenfell Tower, a block of mainly social housing in the U.K. capital’s most affluent district of Kensington, in the west of the city. It’s led to anger and street protests at the local and national government’s response to the disaster and questions over whether spending cuts compromised safety.
Police identified the fridge model as a Hotpoint FF175BP, and the Department for Business issued a statement saying the device is being examined by technical experts to “establish whether any further action is required,” such as a product recall. “At this stage there is no specific reason for consumers to switch off their fridge freezer pending further investigation,” the department said.
64,000 fridges manufactured from 2006-2009
Whirlpool said 64,000 of the fridges were manufactured by Indesit between 2006 and 2009, when the model was discontinued, several years before Whirlpool acquired the company.
“We are working with the authorities to obtain access to the appliance so that we can assist with the ongoing investigations,” the company said in a statement. “We are addressing this as a matter of utmost urgency and assisting the authorities in any way we can.”
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Inspections are being carried out on about 600 social housing tower blocks in England and 11 have so far failed initial safety tests. Checks are also being offered to owners of privately held tower blocks as well as schools, hospitals and other public buildings, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokeswoman, Alison Donnelly, told reporters on Friday.
Police are seizing “relevant material from a number of organizations,” McCormack told reporters, without naming the companies or authorities involved. Media attention has focused on a unit of Rydon Group, which refurbished the building last summer. The company issued a statement last week saying its work “met all required building regulations — as well as fire regulation and health and safety standards.”
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John is a Jacksonville native who grew up on the First Coast. He graduated from Bishop Kenny High School in 1975 and went to college at Florida State University where he completed a 4-year program in 3 years. John graduated from the Florida State University College of Business in 1978 and went straight into Florida State University College of Law. While in law school, John earned a position on the prestigious Law Review Board serving as its Business Editor. As a law student, John studied in the Oxford program. He also interned with the Florida Legislature working in the Florida House of Representatives Criminal Justice Committee. John was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1981.
John began his legal career as a law school intern in the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville in 1981. After his internship, legendary State Attorney Ed Austin hired John as a full-time Assistant State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit (Clay, Duval, and Nassau Counties). As a prosecutor, John tried jury and non-jury trial on charges ranging from DUI to Murder.
In 1983, John moved from the State Attorney's Office to begin his career in private practice. He has practiced law for 30 years on the First Coast. For the last 20 years, John and his family have made Clay County their home.
John limits his practice to personal injury and disability cases. While there are many fine attorneys in Clay County, John is one of only a few Clay County attorneys who limit their practice to personal injury and disability cases. John takes pride in helping clients resolve injury claims in ways that avoid the stress, uncertainty, and the expense of unnecessary litigation.
John is the past President of the Clay County Bar Association and has served on the Board of the Clay County Bar Association from 2009-2013. He is an active member of the Florida Bar, and the Federal Bar of the Middle and Southern Districts of Florida. He is also a member of the American Association of Justice, the Florida Association of Justice, the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives, and the National Organization of Veterans' Advocates.
Service to the Community
John is involved in the Clay County Community serving as a member and Director of the Rotary Club of Orange Park, of the Clay County Bar Association, and the Putnam County Bar Association.
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