At least 30 injured in London apartment block fire
LONDON – At least 30 people were taken to hospital on Wednesday (June 14) after a massive fire engulfed a 27-storey block of flats in west London, trapping some residents while 200 fire fighters battled the blaze.
The fire brigade said 40 fire engines and 200 fire fighters had been called to the blaze in Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, which has 120 flats.
"We can confirm that we have taken 30 patients to five hospitals," London Ambulance Service said, according to Reuters.
A "hazardous area response team" were also at the scene.
Residents related how they woke up to the smell of burning and rushed to escape through smoke-filled corridors.
Four hours after the alarm was raised, flames could still be seen on several floors of the blackened residential building, which was shrouded in a cloud of thick black smoke.
Witnesses could hear screaming from the upper floors as the flames rose and one desperate resident could be seen waving a white cloth, AFP reported. There were also reports of panicked residents jumping from their windows.
Frantic families at the scene attempted to call their loved ones stuck inside and were being directed by police to a nearby restaurant where some of the injured were being treated.
Large pieces of debris could be seen falling from the tower, a 1970s block in the working-class north Kensington area – a short distance from chic Notting Hill.
The ambulance service said it had sent more than 20 ambulance crews to the scene.
"Fire is from 2nd to top floor of 27 storey building," the fire service said on Twitter.
Fire fighters at the scene said they had managed to evacuate residents up to the 11th floor. Some residents were evacuated in their pyjamas.
Police were also clearing out nearby buildings because of the fears about falling debris and had shut down a section of the A40 highway – a normally busy thoroughfare into London.
A London Underground line passing the area near Latimer Road station was also shut down.
"Fire fighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire," London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Dan Daly said.
"This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances," he said.
London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: "Major incident declared at Grenfell Tower".
The Daily Mail news website said desperate residents trapped in the higher floors were using sheets as ropes to escape from the blaze.
Eyewitness Fabio Bebber said on Twitter that trapped residents were heard screaming for their lives. "People screaming for their lives. Horrible," he wrote.
Another eyewitness Victoria Goldsmith told Sky News she saw two people trapped at the top. "They had mobile phones and they had the lights trying to flash them and signal people... They couldn't get to them ... (the) fire kept going and the lights went out."
Guardian reporter Alice Ross said one man was seen waving a blanket from his window as fire fighters sprayed water through the window. Residents from the neighbouring estates who had gathered at the scene called out to the man to put his head out the window while others asked him to shout out his unit numbers so they could guide the fire fighters to him.
Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives nearby, said: "It's horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It's gone. It's just a matter of time before this building collapses".
The cause of the fire is not known at this stage, the Fire Brigade said.
The apartment block was built in 1974.
Local residents had warned a year ago about a potential fire risk caused by rubbish being allowed to accumulate during improvement works.
"This matter is of particular concern as there is only one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during the improvement works," read a blog post by the Grenfell Action Group.
"The potential for a fire to break out in the communal area on the walkway does not bear thinking about as residents would be trapped in the building with no way out," it said.
#LondonFire the fire in West London is burning fast— Adrián Genesir (@AGenesir)
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