UPDATED: Huge fire engulfs London tower block, injuring at least 30


dpa

LONDON — At least 30 people were injured after a huge fire swept through a 24-story tower block in west London in the early hours of Wednesday, emergency services said.

Two-hundred firefighters were battling the blaze after receiving the first emergency call at 12:54 a.m. (2354 GMT), the London Fire Brigade said, with reports that people were trapped inside the burning building.

The fire almost entirely engulfed Grenfell Tower in the London suburb of North Kensington from the second story up to the 24th, with flames lashing up the sides of the charred building and smoke billowing over the city.

“Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire,” Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said in a statement, adding that the cause of was not known.

Stuart Crichton, assistant director of operations for the London Ambulance Service, said crews had taken 30 people to five London hospitals.

“We have declared a major incident and continue to work closely with other emergency services at the scene,” Crichton said in a statement, adding that more than 20 ambulance crews attended the fire.

Sadiq Khan, the city’s mayor, said he was in close contact with the London Fire Commissioner and the heads of other emergency services.

“Residents continue to be evacuated from the tower block fire in North Kensington. A number of people being treated for a range of injuries,” the Metropolitan Police said on Twitter.

It also said that the nearby A40 road had been closed due and asked locals to avoid the area.

Witnesses said they could hear screams coming from the building, which according to the local council contains 120 flats.

Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives about 600 metres from the scene, told the news agency Press Association he feared the block could collapse.

“It’s horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It’s gone. It’s just a matter of time before this building collapses,” he said.

George Clarke, a television presenter who lives nearby, told BBC Radio 5 Live he could see people at the top.

“I was in bed and heard ‘beep, beep, beep’ and thought, ‘I’ll get up and run downstairs as quickly as I could.’

“I thought it might be a car alarm outside and saw the glow through the windows. I’m getting covered in ash, that’s how bad it is. I’m 100 metres away and I’m absolutely covered in ash,” he continued.

“It’s so heartbreaking, I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.”