London mayor says tower fire 'horrific'

Claudine Rigal
Juin 15, 2017

Police commander Stuart Cundy gave the death toll of 12 but added the figure was likely to rise "during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days".

The fire in the apartment building in Latimer Road, on the Lancaster West Estate - the 24-floor Grenfell Tower in north Kensington - began at about 00:54 am on Wednesday.

A baby reportedly survived a almost 10-story fall as residents scrambled to escape a massive blaze early Wednesday morning at a residential high-rise building in West London.

He said more than 20 ambulance crews as well as a hazardous area response team are at the scene to rescue the trapped residents inside the towering inferno.

On Twitter, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the fire was declared a major incident; he and other city officials are spreading information about how survivors and families can find one another or report someone missing.

Another onlooker, 32-year-old James Wood, told NBC News that he saw kids in one of the rooms "at the window screaming for help" until the "room eventually went up in flames".

There was no immediate word on the cause, but angry residents said they had repeatedly warned about a potential fire threat.

"It appears that the external cladding has significantly contributed to the spread of fire", said Angus Law from the BRE Centre for Fire Safety Engineering at the University of Edinburgh.

Some residents said they had been advised they should stay in their flats in the event of a fire.

"We saw the people screaming for help", Ms Boutrig said. While speaking to AFP, he said it is "highly unlikely" of residents in upper floors surviving the blaze.

"As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly incredible firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out the building as possible", he told the BBC.

Some residents said that they did not hear smoke alarms go off, and it's not clear if the building had a working sprinkler system.

In a blog post in November, it accused the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants' Management Organization (KCTMO), which manages the housing block on behalf of the local authority, of allowing "dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation".

Other witnesses said they saw residents holding their children out of windows.

"Sadly, I don't anticipate there will be further survivors", he said.

George Clarke told Radio 5 Live that he was covered in ash even though he was 100 meters (yards) from the scene.

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

A structural engineer monitoring the stability of the razed building found it was safe for now and a search for people inside was continuing.

"We are dealing with a really serious fire that spread throughout the building", a spokesman for the fire brigade said.

■ The building was refurbished recently at a cost of £8.6 million, with work completed in May past year.

The Action Group expressed concern about the testing and maintenance of firefighting equipment and blocked emergency access to the site.

It has not yet been confirmed what the cause of the fire was.

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