London Fire Brigade have confirmed there have been a number of fatalities following a fire at a tower block in west London. Firefighters are still tackling the blaze at the 24-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, with eye witnesses reporting that there are people trapped inside the building. The London Ambulance Service said that at 6.15am it had 20 ambulance crews at the scene, and 50 people had been taken to hospital.
Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor, managed to escape. He 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". He added: "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."
Firefighters are still tackling the blaze at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington
The first reports of the fire in Latimer Road came in just before 1am. Three hours after the fire started, police said people were continuing to be evacuated from the tower. London fire commissioner Dany Cotton said fire fighters arrived within six minutes of the first call, and that there had been a number of fatalities, although she couldn't confirm numbers because of the complexity of the building.
She said: "This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never ever seen anything of this scale. Firefighters are working very hard at the moment. This is a major fire that affected all floors of this 24-storey building from the second floor upwards. I have over 200 of my firefighters and officers attending this incident, with 40 fire engines and a range of specialist vehicles, including 14 fire rescue units. We declared this a major incident very early this morning … the first call coming in at 12.54. Our first fire engines were on the scene in under six minutes.
It's not yet known what caused the fire at the 24-storey tower block
"Crews wearing breathing apparatus and extended duration breathing apparatus have been working in extremely challenging and very difficult conditions to rescue people and bring this major fire under control. London ambulance service have confirmed that 30 people have been taken to five hospitals. I am very sad to confirm that there have been a number of fatalities. I cannot confirm the number at this time due to the size and complexity of this building. It would clearly be wrong for me to speculate further. Equally, the cause of this fire is not known at this stage.
"We are working very closely with our colleagues in the Metropolitan police and the London ambulance service to bring this situation under control. Further information will be made available shortly including advice for those concerned about those who are working here and people who live here." The Met Police, meanwhile, has set up an emergency number on 0800 0961 233 for anyone concerned about friends or family.