A massive fire engulfed a residential high-rise building in London today, leaving scores injured and an undetermined amount of people dead.
The London Fire Brigade dispatched at least 40 fire engines, 20 ambulance crews and 200 firefighters in an effort to battle the conflagration at the 24-story Grenfell Tower in West London.
A representative for the London Fire Brigade said there had been ‘a number of fatalities’, but declined to say how many people had died.
“This is an unprecedented incident,” London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters. “In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”
An exact figure for the number of injured has not yet been released either, but the London Ambulance Service said 50 people had been transported to five local hospitals after the incident, while the London Metropolitan Police said in a prior statement many people were being given medical care for a range of injuries.
It is not known yet what caused the fire, which firefighters continue to battle. The blaze has left the building almost totally charred, and there were fears in the morning about the building’s structural integrity as it appeared to lurch slightly to one side.
The tower, built in 1974, contains 120 apartments, according to its management company Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation.
One resident told ABC News that he woke up, smelling smoke, and thought his laptop was overheating. He said it seemed as if the fire had been going off for at least 30 minutes before the building’s fire alarms went off.
The resident, who said he was initially told to stay in place, said he fled the building once he realized how thick the smoke was. Regrettably, he said he was unable to carry his elderly father and fears that he may not have survived.
London Fire Brigade assistant commissioner Dan Daly said in a statement that ‘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’.
And Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London described the blaze as a “major incident.”