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News by Fred Alan Medforth
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
London Fire: Flames Engulf Tower Block, Fatalities Confirmed
Fifty people are injured and a number of fatalities are confirmed after a fire raged through a tower block overnight in West London. Eyewitnesses report seeing residents throw themselves from the building.
The first reports of the fire at Grenfell Tower, north Kensington, came in at 00:54 BST Wednesday morning. All floors from the second floor upwards were affected. The Metropolitan Police have confirmed this is still an active rescue scene saying “the evacuation process continues”.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed, “a number of people are unaccounted for”.
The BBC’s Andy Moore said the whole 24-storey block had been alight and there were fears the building might collapse. Eyewitnesses told the BBC they saw people trapped inside their homes and were unable to use exits to escape the building.Multiple witnesses told Sky News they saw people jumping from windows and balconies to escape the blaze.
London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton has confirmed there have been “a number of fatalities”.
At least 50 people, revised from 30 since Wednesday morning, have been injured and taken to five hospitals across the city.Twenty ambulances were sent to the scene and medics from the hazardous response team, who are trained in life-saving medical care in hazardous environments, were also deployed.
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.”
The tower block contains 120 flats and was recently refurbished including new exterior cladding and a communal heating system. Residents who escaped have told the media they did not hear a fire alarm, with one resident telling Sky News many people would not have escaped the building had they not been awoken by the sound of screaming.Seventh-floor resident Paul Munakr told the BBC: “As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly amazing firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out the building as possible.”
He said he was alerted to the fire not by fire alarms but by people on the street below, shouting “don’t jump, don’t jump”.
“Now, honestly I don’t know for certain if people jumped off the building to get away from the fire, but the main thing for me with this incident is the fact that the fire alarms didn’t go off in the building,” he said.The Telegraphreports that local Grenfell Action Group had claimed, before and during the refurbishment, the block constituted a fire risk and residents had warned that access to the site for emergency vehicles was “severely restricted”. but the group claims their concerns fell on “deaf ears”.
Though the fire is largely extinguished, flames are still licking out of parts of the building.