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London tower block fire: Flames engulf Grenfell Tower

A huge fire has raged through the night at a tower block in Latimer Road, west London, with eyewitnesses claiming people are trapped in their homes.

The fire at Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate was reported at 00:54 BST and about 200 firefighters are still tackling the blaze.

The Met Police said people were being treated for “a range of injuries”.

The BBC’s Andy Moore said the whole tower block had been alight and there were fears the building might collapse.

BBC correspondent Simon Lederman said he understood “a significant number of people” were unaccounted for.

The tower block contains 120 flats and is 24 storeys high.

Forty fire engines have been sent to the tower, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said a “major incident” had been declared.

At about 04:00 BST police said: “Residents continue to be evacuated from the tower block.”

Eyewitnesses said they have seen lights – thought to be mobile phones or torches – flashing at the top of the block of flats.

Others says residents – thought to be trapped inside – have been seen coming to their windows.

An unmanned hydraulic platform has been shooting water at the side of the building at about the 10th floor.

Simon Lederman said firefighters had not been able to tackle the flames on higher storeys.

He said the tower could be seen burning “from miles away”, adding that the building had been “burning out of control”, from the tenth floor onwards.

Andy Moore added: “We’ve seen debris falling from the building, we’ve heard explosions, we’ve heard the sound of glass breaking.

“The police keep pushing back their cordons, pushing back members of the public for fear the building might collapse.

London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Dan Daly said firefighters were “working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire”.

“This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances.”

London Ambulance Service medics specially trained in life-saving medical care in hazardous environments have also been sent to the fire.

London Underground said the Hammersmith and City and Circle lines have been closed between Edgware Road and Hammersmith because of the fire.

Police said the A40 Westway was closed in both directions.

One eyewitness, George Clarke, the presenter of Channel 4 TV programme Amazing Spaces, told Radio 5 Live: “I’m getting covered in ash, that’s how bad it is.”

Safety concerns

According to Kensington and Chelsea Council, the tower block contains 120 flats and is 24 storeys high.

It is managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) on behalf of the council and had undergone a two-year, £10m refurbishment that was completed last year.

The work included new exterior cladding and a communal heating system.

The local Grenfell Action Group had claimed, while the refurbishment was ongoing, the block constituted a fire risk and residents had warned that access to the site for emergency vehicles was “severely restricted”.

The BBC has been unable to contact the property’s management company in the hours since the fire.

He added: “I’m 100 metres away and I’m absolutely covered in ash.

“It’s so heartbreaking, I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.”

Jody Martin said he ran towards the building to try and help when he saw the fire.

He said he was shouting at people to “get out, get out” but that residents were shouting back that they were stuck as corridors inside the building were filled with smoke.

‘Building crumbling’

Tim Downie, another eyewitness, told the BBC part of the building was “completely burned away”.

“It has burned through to its very core,” he said.

“It looks very bad, very very bad. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s just such a big fire.

“The whole building is just crumbling. It’s just billowing black smoke.”

Safiyah, who is about 500m away from the building, said: “There are lots of people gathered in the street. I just see more and more flames burning and tragically I hear people crying for help.

“The entire building is burning through.”

 

 

Source: BBC

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