LONDON — A massive fire engulfed a 27-story apartment building in west London early Wednesday as around 30 people have been taken to hospitals following the blaze.
TV images showed the outside of the building totally blackened, with many window frames deformed. Heavy smoke is still billowing into the air, flames still raging almost five hours after police received the first report of the fire.
A Xinhua correspondent at the scene said he could smell the burning smell and saw police helicopter hovering above.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan called the fire a “major incident.”
The Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate, built in the 1970s and renovated several times, contains 120 homes. It is feared many are trapped inside the blazing building as the fire broke out in the wee hours of Wednesday.
Local reports cited witnesses as saying they saw people jumping from the building to escape the fire and they heard screams for help as well.
Other eyewitnesses said there are fears the residential building could collapse.
The London Ambulance Service said earlier it sent “a number of resources.” Currently, there are 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters working on the scene.
London Ambulances’ hazardous environments team has also rushed to the scene.
The Metropolitan Police have closed major road A40 due to the fire and asked people to avoid the area so as to allow emergency services to get to the scene.
Police received report of the fire at the building at 1:16 a.m. local time (0016 GMT).
The Grenfell Action Group has posted an entry on its blog this morning, stating that it has previously raised concerns about fire safety at the tower block.
“Regular readers of this blog will know that we have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.”
Although the cause of the fire is not yet clear, some residents have pointed to plastic cladding, which can be found on the ground, as “the problem.” Xinhua/PNA – northboundasia.com