Fire Engulfs Apartment Tower in London
LONDON — More than 200 firefighters from all over London were struggling to contain a major fire at a high-rise apartment building in the west of the city early Wednesday, with fears that people are trapped inside the burning building.
According to the London Fire Brigade and the Metropolitan Police, the fire broke out around 1:16 a.m. and quickly engulfed the building, Grenfell Tower, in North Kensington.
The London Fire Brigade said the flames had spread from the second floor to the top floor of the 27-story building, which contains some 120 apartments. Ambulances were sent to the scene. The police said that “a number of people being treated for a range of injuries” and that “residents continue to be evacuated.”
The cause of the fire is unknown at this stage, the Fire Brigade said.
A residents’ association, the Grenfell Action Group, has regularly complained in its newsletter of fire hazards in the building and what it called inattention by the landlord.
Dan Daly, an assistant fire commissioner, said: “Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are 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.”
Firefighters on the ground trained hoses on the building.
At dawn, the blaze still burned brightly against the sky, with flames especially hot in the middle section. Ashes filled with air, and one could hear small explosions as helicopters flew overhead.
Photos and videos posted on social media earlier showed flames shooting from one side of the building.
At least 40 fire engines were at the scene.
Witnesses said they could see lights — thought to be flashlights — blinking at the top of the block of apartments.
George Clarke, an architect and television personality, who said he was 100 yards away, told the BBC: “I’m getting covered in ash. That’s how bad it is.”
He continued: “It’s so heartbreaking. I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.”
Tim Downey, another witness, told the BBC that part of the building was “completely burned away.”
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.”