A huge fire broke out at a west London tower block during the early hours of Wednesday morning. As reports coming in six people have died and more than 50 are in hospital after a huge fire raged through the night at a west London tower block, a fire chief says.
Eyewitnesses described people trapped in the burning Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved.
The 24-storey block, which is still believed to be on fire, looks at risk of collapsing.
During the night, eyewitnesses said they saw lights – thought to be mobile phones or torches – flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows – some holding children.
The Met Police has set up an emergency number on 0800 0961 233 for anyone concerned about friends or family.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said there had been “a number of fatalities” but she could not say how many because of the “size and complexity” of the building.
“In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never seen anything of this scale. Based on the level of resources needed at this fire, we declared this a major incident very early this morning.” She said
She urged all residents to make sure they had reported themselves to police so that the authorities know they are safe.
The cause was not yet known and it was too early to speculate on the building, she said, although it was structurally safe enough for her crews to be working inside.
By mid-morning, the building looked to be just smoking ruins but the fire has again taken hold, and cladding is falling to the ground.
Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was devastated by the horrific scenes, attended by more than 250 firefighters and 100 ambulance medics.
Questions will need to be answered over the safety of tower blocks, he told BBC Radio.
“We can’t have a situation where people’s safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained,” he said.
Matt Wrack, of the Fire Brigades Union said something had clearly gone badly wrong with fire prevention procedures at the building.
Firefighters would normally fight a fire in a tower block from the inside, going up the fire escape, and fighting using the internal dry-rising mains, he said, but that’s not been possible in this case.
“Several hundred” people would have been in the block when the fire broke out, leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Nick Paget-Brown said.
Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, Wilson Chowdhry travelled to the blaze to offer help and bottles of water to victims.
He told Asian Standard: “When I got there the police cordons had not yet been fully implemented. I was able to reach victims and offer them water from the two crates that had been in my home.
“People were crying in the streets they were all shocked and stunned. Those that spoke described very harrowing accounts of how people escaped the flats. Many told me that they had not heard any fire alarm.
“People heard bangs and pops as the fire raged on. Most people learnt about the fire through kind but panicked neighbours who woke them up with vigorous knocking. One man told me the fire began from one of the lower levels but rapidly rose and engulfed the building.
“Many people were still looking for friends and family it was a very disturbing place. This situation was exacerbated as people fleeing the blaze left their phones behind.
“The fire just raged on and all of us were praying that the building would not collapse as it is in the midst of a densely populated area.”
An emergency number has been set up by The Met Police Anyone concerned about their family and friends can call 0800 0961 233 for anyone concerned about friends or family.