London Fire: At least 6 dead after blaze engulfs apartment tower

Market Watch– At least six people have died and dozens injured in a massive blaze that engulfed a 24-story apartment building in west London early Wednesday.

The fire at the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington broke out at around 1 a.m. local time, and 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines battled to control the fire, which consumed almost the whole of the high-rise. Witnesses said people were trapped in the building, which has 120 apartment homes thought to house hundreds of people.

“We can confirm six fatalities at this time following the fire in North Kensington in the early hours of this morning,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement. “These are very early stages and we do expect that figure to rise.”

Earlier, Dany Cotton, Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, said the size and complexity of the building made it difficult to give a clear number of deaths in the tragedy.

“In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale,” she said in a statement.

Fire has now totally consumed . @LondonFire doing absolutely heroic work in very tough circumstances.

Eyewitness reports on social and news media said people could be seen on higher floors trying to signal for help and jumping out of windows to escape the flames.

“You could see people inside shouting ‘help, help.’ There was a man who jumped from his balcony. Maybe halfway. I couldn’t see if he hit the ground,” a resident named Zainab told Sky News. “There was a woman who kept coming to her window. There was a point when she stopped coming.”

“People can be seen at the windows”: @aliceross_ reports from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/live/2017/jun/14/grenfell-tower-major-fire-london-apartment-block-white-city-latimer-road 

People were using ropes made of blankets to lower themselves out of windows, witnesses told media outlets. Samira Lamrani told the Press Association that she had seen a woman drop her baby from a window on the ninth or tenth floor, and a man managed to catch the child.

“The more I looked up, floor upon floor. Endless numbers of people. Mainly the kids, because obviously their voices, with their high pitched voices — that will remain with me for a long time,” Lamrani said. “I could hear them screaming for their lives.”

Ambulance crews took 64 people to six hospitals, where 20 people are currently in critical care, the London Ambulance Service said. “We’ve been treating patients for a range of injuries, as well as for smoke inhalation,” it said in a statement.

On Wednesday, authorities were keeping evacuees and bystanders away from the building out of fear it could collapse. “Extensive cordons remain in place and a number of nearby residents have been evacuated as a precaution,” the Metropolitan Police said. “We kindly ask that the public stay away from the area.”

Police under riot shields rescue man covered in ash from fire http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/london-fire-live-updates-as-blaze-tears-through-27storey-grenfell-tower-in-notting-hill-a3564551.html#post-966705063 

The reason for the blaze, which affected every story except the bottom two, is not yet known. “It is likely to take some time before we are in a position to confirm the cause of the fire,” the Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

The high-rise building’s management last year completed a multimillion-dollar refurbishment, which saw the block covered in a plastic shell, reports said. Before that work was carried out, a group of residents raised concerns about fire risks, claiming a series of power surges in 2013 were caused by faulty wiring.

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Break: Tory council was warned repeatedly about fire risk at

In January 2016, just months before the refurbishment was completed in May 2016, the Grenfell Action Group residents’ association said the one entry and exit available had been blocked with dumped items.

“This matter is of particular concern as there is only one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during the Improvement Works and 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,” the group said in a blog post.

Tower floor plan. “Improved” high density layout means one set of stairs for 24 stories of 120 apartments.