London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has confirmed that there have been fatalities in the major fire accident at a 24-storey tower in west London on Wednesday morning.
“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,” she said adding that the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained.
The fire accident took place in Latimer Road’s Grenfell Tower located in White City district. At least 30 people have been taken to five hospitals across the city, the London Ambulance Service said in a statement.
“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,” she was quoted as saying by The Guardian. Cotton also added the fire engines were there at the scene within six minutes.
London Fire Brigade said on Twitter that 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters were trying to douse the fire at Lancaster West Estate tower block.
The fire brigade department issued a statement saying the fire had spread from the second floor to the top floor of the building. The area around Grenfell Tower has been cordoned off and approximately 30 adjacent flats have been evacuated by police.
“I’m lucky to be alive – and lots of people have not got out of the building,” a survivor was quoted in the British media.
“I’ve lost everything I own. I’m standing here in everything I’ve got.” The survivors have gathered in the Rugby Portobello community centre which is near the tower.
Metropolitan Police, present at the scene, have asked people to stay away from the area for now. Police also said the residents are being evacuated from the tower block and a number of people are being treated for various injuries.
London Ambulance Service said it has sent “a number of resources” for the North Kensington fire. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has issued a brief statement saying ‘major incident’ is declared at the Grenfell Tower in Kensington.
In a statement posted on Facebook, Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety Dan Daly 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.”
The cause of the fire has not been ascertained yet. Unverified reports mention that police have asked families trapped in the building to cover faces with wet towels and try to escape.