At least twelve people have died and dozens more rushed to hospital after a fire engulfed the Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road in West London.
A fire was reported at the Grenfel Tower at 00:54 BST on Wednesday morning. Witnesses reported seeing flames in fourth floor windows, but the fire soon spread throughout the building, trapping many residents inside.
Forty fire engines and around 200 firefighters from four different fire stations tackled the blaze, for which the cause remains unknown.
The London Fire Brigade said their specialist urban search and rescue crews and a structural engineer have checked the building and confirmed that the tower is not in danger of collapsing.
Speaking from the scene of the Grenfell tower block fire in North Kensington London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said:
“This is an unprecedented situation, with a major fire that has affected all floors of this 24 storey building, from the second floor up.
“Over 200 firefighters and officers are attending this incident, with 40 fire engines and a range of other specialist vehicles, including 14 fire rescue units at the scene.
“Based on the level of resource that was needed at this fire we declared it a major incident in the early hours of this morning.
“London Fire Brigade’s Control room took multiple calls, with the first being received at 00.54am The first fire crews arrived on the scene in under six minutes and were faced with a rapidly developing and incredibly complex fire.
“Crews wearing breathing apparatus have been working in extremely difficult conditions to rescue people and bring this major fire under control.
“London Ambulance Service have confirmed 50 people have been taken to five hospitals.
“I am sad to confirm that we now know that there have been fatalities. I cannot confirm the number at this time and as you will appreciate with a fire of this size, affecting such a large building it would be unhelpful of me to speculate further but our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by this terrible incident.”
London Ambulance Service Director of Operations Paul Woodrow commented:
“Following this morning’s fire at Grenfell Tower, West London, we have treated and taken 64 patients to six hospitals across London, where 20 people are currently in critical care. Our thoughts are with everyone affected.
“Over 100 of our medics have been working hard to respond to this incident, including ambulance crews, advanced paramedics, advanced trauma teams from London’s Air Ambulance and those staff managing the incident in our special operations centre. Our hazardous area response teams are also on scene, who carry specialist equipment including breathing apparatus. We’ve been treating patients for a range of injuries, as well as for smoke inhalation.”
David Collins of the Grenfell Tower residents association, told BBC News that residents concerns about fire safety had been ignored by the local council.
“We repeatedly reported concerns to the tenant management organisation of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, including fire safety concerns which were not investigated during the regeneration works. Concerns over locations of boilers, concerns about escape, concerns about fire escape lighting, the list goes on. I spoke to councillors and they refused to investigate. They wouldn’t believe that the residents were concerned. 90% of residents singed an independent petition asking for there to be an investigation into the organisation that runs this building because they were so incompetent. And the council turned it down.”
However, the contractors who completed a £9.7m refurbishment of Grenfell Tower in 2016, Rydon, insist that the tower block met fire and health and safety standards. In a statement it said:
“We are shocked to hear of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower and our immediate thoughts are with those that have been affected by the incident, their families, relatives and friends.
“Rydon completed a refurbishment of the building in the summer of 2016 for KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) on behalf of the Council, which met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards. We will cooperate with the relevant authorities and emergency services and fully support their enquiries into the causes of this fire at the appropriate time.
“Given the ongoing nature of the incident and the tragic events overnight, it would be inappropriate for us to speculate or comment further at this stage.”