The report into the distastrous escalator fire at King's Cross London Underground station in 1987.
This document was published on 21st October 1988 by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
It was written by Desmond Fennell (OBE QC).
This item is linked to the Accident at Kings Cross on 18th November 1987
The original document format was Paper, and comprised 285 pages.
This document was kindly sourced from Ian Brightmore and is in our Accident inquiry documents collection. It was added to the Archive on 2nd September 2005.
This document is Crown Copyright, and is subject to the terms governing the reproduction of crown copyright material. Depending on the status and age of the original document, you may need an OPSI click-use license if you wish to reproduce this material, and other restrictions may apply. Please see this explanation for further details.
"1. At the heart of this Investigation lie three questions:
(i) How did the fire start?
(ii) Why was there a flashover?
(iii) Why did 31 people die? How did the fire start?
2. It is clear from the evidence that people continued to smoke in the Underground in spite of the ban in February 1985 following the fire at Oxford Circus station. They did so in particular by lighting up on the escalator as they prepared to leave the station. The Court was provided with detailed information of 46 escalator fires between 1956 and 1988 and in 32 instances the cause was attributed to smokers' materials.
3. About two weeks before the disaster, gaps were observed between the treads and the skirting board on the Piccadilly Line escalator 4 at King's Cross. They were caused by the crabbing movement of the escalator. Thus there were gaps through which a lighted match could pass. Moreover 30 per cent of fire cleats were missing, making it easier for a match to fall through the gap and for a fire to flourish.
4. Beneath each side of the treads lay the running tracks of the escalator. Those running tracks should have been cleaned and lubricated properly. They were not. There was an accumulation of grease and detritus (dust, fibre and debris) on the tracks which constituted a seed bed for a fire and it was into that bed that the match fell. When the forensic scientist inspected the scene after the disaster he recovered several matches from the running track underneath the lower part of the escalator.
5. When the skirting board of the escalator was examined it was clear from the burn marks that fires had started on many previous occasions. Happily, they had gone out. On 18 November 1987 the fire bed ignited and the grease on the right-hand running track began to melt. The fire had started. Why was there a flashover?"
21st October 1988
Investigation into the King's Cross Underground Fire
1st January 1996
Study of Upward Flame Spread on Inclined Surfaces
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