A retired teacher who lost both parents in a fire disaster four decades ago has spoken of her shock that such tragedies continue to happen.
Joan Ford’s parents William and Pat Goldsmith died in August 1973 in a fire at the Summerland leisure centre on the Isle of Man which claimed the lives of 50 people.
Mrs Ford, of Newsome, watched the TV coverage of the Grenfell Tower fire in west London with a sense of sadness and anger as police confirmed that people had died with the figure ‘likely to rise.’
She recalled that an inquiry into the 1973 disaster had raised a number of failings including inadequate fire proofing and evacuation failings.
Mrs Ford recalled waiting for five days in a mortuary for the remains of her parents to be identified.
Her sister Jean, husband Dennis and children Joanne and Julie, also from Huddersfield, escaped from the Isle of Man inferno with their lives, although Jean suffered burns to her back.
Their children, who were aged four and 18 months at the time, were saved when Dennis dropped them over a landing railing into a mystery man’s arms as the fire swept through the vast building.
Mrs Ford, then a 32-year-old teacher, had been at home in Huddersfield when the tragedy unfolded. The fire was caused by three boys smoking in a disused kiosk.
She said: “It hit me watching the coverage. How can it happen again?
“There were recommendations in the Isle of Man inquiry. Have they not been followed? It doesn’t appear that they have.”
Following the London tragedy, she believes similar high-rise buildings should be given urgent safety inspections.
“There now needs to be less talk and more action. They need to go round all the buildings and start with the great big ones and look at fire escape (routes), sprinkler systems and what (materials) they are made from. Where people live and work, fire regulations should be up to date.”
Mrs Ford and husband Malcolm were horrified to hear allegations of fire safety failings in relation to Grenfell Tower.
Questions over the safety of the tower block were raised by local people before and during a £10m refurbishment which was completed last year.
The local Grenfell Action Group had claimed the block constituted a fire risk and residents had warned that access to the site for emergency vehicles was “severely restricted.”
In February 2013 residents warned fire safety equipment, including fire extinguishers, had not been tested for 12 months.
Fire safety experts said they would have expected such a fire to be contained to an individual apartment.
Former fire chief Jon Hall described it as a “Third-World type accident that represents a failure of every component of fire safety and building management.”