VIDEOS: Massive fire engulfs tower block in west London, 6 dead
A massive fire, which has engulfed a high-rise apartment block in west London, has left at least 6 people dead and several others injured, police officials say.
The fire broke out in the 24-story Lancaster West Estate tower in the early hours of Wednesday when most of the residents would have still been in bed.
The fire brigade said 45 fire engines and 200 firefighters as well as 20 ambulances were sent to the building which has 120 flats and was built in 1974, but recently underwent a major refurbishment.
“Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire,” London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Dan Daly said.
“This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances,” he said.
Several people are trapped inside the building with reports that it might collapse. Meanwhile, officials said a structural engineer was monitoring stability of the building.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said a “major incident” had been declared.
A witness told CNN that he saw people jumping from the building.
Police officials said that they had started an evacuation of the block and the neighboring buildings, adding some people were being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.
At least 50 people have been taken to hospital so far, according to officials.
“We have now taken over 50 patients to five hospitals across London,” London Ambulance Service Assistant Director of Operations, Stuart Crichton, said.
Reports suggest at least 20 of the injured are in critical condition.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said, “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 and it would clearly be wrong for me to speculate further,” Cotton added.
However, police later on the day said that six people were confirmed dead.
Meanwhile, Khan said that there were still a lot of people “unaccounted for,” adding “fire crews only managed to reach the 12th floor at the height of the fire.”
He added that some of those people “could have found safe refuges in the homes of their neighbors or their friends.”
Up to 600 people are believed to have been inside the building, but it is unclear how many managed to get out safely.
The streets around the tower have been sealed off and there was chaos there with “people in night clothes, no shoes, crying, looking for family.”
George Clarke, the presenter of Channel 4 TV program Amazing Spaces, told Radio 5 Live, “I’m 100 meters away and I’m absolutely covered in ash.”
“It’s so heartbreaking, I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.”
“People can be seen at the windows, including one man waving a blanket from the window,” a witness told The Guardian.
“Some shouting “put your head out the window” or calling the man with the blanket to shout his flat numbers so they can guide the fire services to him.”