The Grenfell Tower fire in London last Wednesday, which has left at least 79 people dead or presumed dead, may have been preventable with better oversight and renovation technology. But there is a strong reason why it wasn’t prevented: High-rise buildings aren’t suitable for public housing (often called social housing in the United Kingdom and Europe), and wherever they are used in this way, they are a source of danger.

The investigation is ongoing, but so far the facts of the Grenfell Tower case appear straightforward. Residents have long complained of inadequate fire safety in the 24-story building — power surges, insufficient and outdated firefighting equipment, an insufficient frequency of inspections. In response, they received at least one lawyerly demand that they take down blog posts.

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