Lead counsel lays out course of investigation into blaze that claimed 72 lives

More than 50 firefighters will be called to give oral evidence to the Grenfell Tower inquiry, its opening evidence-taking session has been told.

On its first formal day hearing legal submissions, Richard Millett QC, the lead counsel to the inquiry, laid out the future course of its investigation into the blaze that claimed 72 lives.

The inquiry is the largest ever established in Britain in terms of the number of core participants. So far, 533 individuals have been granted that status as well as 29 organisations. Two of the adult core participants have been anonymised.

Millett began by outlining the events of 14 June last year, when the fire began in flat 16 on the fourth floor before rapidly spreading to external cladding on the outside of the tower block and eventually destroying it.

He listed a number of questions that the inquiry intends ultimately to answer, including: how was it that combustible material was used? How did so many people sign the refurbishment as safe? Was saving money put before saving lives?

But first of all, he said, the inquiry must deal with the events of the night and how the fire progressed in what it has been termed phase one of its investigation.

Fifty-two firefighters will give oral evidence: some of these fought their way up through the smoke and flames, and some were commanders who controlled the rescue operation.

Related: The Grenfell Tower public inquiry: key questions answered

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