Fire breaks out from Grenfell Tower in London early Wednesday, June 14, trapping residents in the apartment block. | Image from BBC
Fire broke out from an apartment block in West London early Wednesday, June 14, and while the blaze was largely extinguished, smoke continued to billow from the building, according to a report on CNN.
The report said that 200 firefighters, 40 fire engines and 20 ambulances were deployed at the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington.
‘Major emergency plan’
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has activated a “major emergency plan” in response to the fire, a council spokesman said, according to CNN.
“Local authority liaison officers are working directly with emergency services at the scene,” he said.
“An emergency rest center is open for evacuees at the Harrow Center, Freston Road.”
‘Saw people jumping out the window’
Ayyub Asif, whose family lives in the building, told CNN he saw residents jumping out of the building.
“My nephew was in there, my cousin was in there,” he said, adding that he helped rescue workers carry people out of the building, including his relatives, both of whom were rushed to hospital.
“I saw people jumping out the window, it’s crazy,” he said.
Another witness, Omar Choudry, also said he saw people leaping from floors near the middle of the building to escape the fire.
“I could clearly see there was someone jumping off,” he said, adding that the top of the building was “completely ablaze.”
“You could see (the fire) from very, very far. You can still see the smoke — anywhere in London, you can probably see the smoke,” he said.
‘Nothing they can do’
Witness Tim Downie said he saw residents of Grenfell Tower being evacuated.
“Most people had just woken up,” he said, adding that locals were asked by the emergency services to provide coats and shoes for the residents, many of whom were in bed when the fire broke out.
“It’s just a horror, watching their homes just burn and nothing they can do,” Downie said.
The flames are beginning to die down in Grenfell Tower, as an intense rescue operation is still ongoing. The London Ambulance Service said more than 20 ambulances had been sent to the fire to help deal with the injured.
‘You could hear people screaming’
Local resident Dave Phippen said lights on one side of the building were still on even as the fire spread across the other side. He was woken up by the noise of residents shouting for help.
“I thought there was a row going on,” he told CNN. “Came out to my back garden and saw (the fire). You could hear people screaming. Whoever is at the top of (the tower), I pray to god they got out.”
Grenfell Tower is located in North Kensington in West London, near the Latimer Road Underground station and Notting Hill.
CNN’s Salima Abdelaziz said the area around the apartment building was often under development and reconstruction, but it’s still unclear whether ongoing works on Grenfell Tower have anything to do with the fire.
“Investigators will look into that after the rescue operation that is still ongoing,” she said.
Residents throughout the West London suburbs where the apartment building was located have gathered in the streets to watch the blaze.
The London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire was still unknown.
In a statement posted on Facebook, the service said the “fire is from the second floor to the top floor of the 27 floor building.”
“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,” Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said.
Abdelaziz, who was outside the apartment block, said it was a “terrifying scene.”
“Chunks of the building are falling off in flames,” she said, adding there is a “massive” swathe of fire across the side of the building.
The sounds of sirens and helicopters were non-stop as locals and residents, evacuated from the building, gather outside to watch the blaze.