Witnesses reported hearing screams and seeing people trapped in the high-rise.
- A fire broke out about 1 a.m. Wednesday at a high-rise apartment building in west London.
- Police said at least six people were dead and that the figure was “likely to rise.” At least 50 people were taken to area hospitals, authorities said.
- The cause of the fire is unknown
LONDON ― Flames devoured a high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday morning, killing 6 people and injuring dozens more, authorities said.
The 24-stories tall Grenfell Tower, in Kensington, was quickly consumed even as firefighters battled the flames throughout the night.
“This is an unprecedented incident,” London fire commissioner Dany Cotton said. “In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”
At least 50 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, London Ambulance Service said. London police said the number of fatalities is “likely to rise” in the coming days.
Cotton said that the cause of the fire, which began around 1 a.m. local time, was still unknown.
Some residents were evacuated from the building, but others appeared to have been trapped in the complex, which contains 120 units. Witnesses told HuffPost UK and other outlets that they saw people jumping or falling from the structure,
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who declared the event a “serious incident” on Twitter early Wednesday, said that emergency services were unable to reach apartments on the highest floors due to the flames.
A video recorded at the scene appears to include audio of people screaming for help from apartments inside the tower.
Reporters spoke to several people at the scene who live near the complex and came out to witness the blaze. They described a scene of chaos and flame.
One witness, Samira Lamrani, told HuffPost UK that “the screams were horrendous to listen to…. I could hear the echoes of the children’s voices pleading for help.”
Isabel Afonso, a woman who lives in the building next to Grenfell, told the Guardian thatshe “could see people banging on their windows screaming for help. It was horrific.”
“We saw people in the second top window of the tower. There were four people screaming and shouting and then the window went completely dark from the smoke and that part of the building was covered in flames,” her roommate, Line Sterring, said.
The Guardian’s Alice Ross, at the scene, said she saw multiple people in the building waving blankets and flashing lights in an attempt to signal firefighters.
One witness told HuffPost UK she saw a woman throw a baby out the window to try and save it.
Residents told HuffPost UK that building management had previously advised them to “stay put” in their apartments in case of a fire.
Luckily, not everyone heeded that advice. One resident told Channel4 News that he and his aunt escaped their 17th floor apartment after seeing the fire tear up the side of their building.
“I see the fire blazing and coming up really fast because of the cladding, the cladding was flammable and it just caught up like a matchstick,” he said. “We lost everything, everything. I’ve got only what I’m wearing on me and my phone.”
The London Fire Brigade said 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters had been dispatched to the blaze, which had consumed almost every floor of parts of the building. London Ambulance service said that more than 100 medics were sent to the scene.
“Crews wearing breathing apparatus and extended duration breathing apparatus have been working in extremely challenging and very difficult conditions to rescue people and bring this major fire under control,” Cotton said.
By Nick Visser, Alana Horowitz Satlin – Huffpost