A number of people have died after a huge fire in a 27-storey residential block in north Kensington.
The fire took hold shortly after midnight and soon engulfed all floors of the Grenfell Tower in Kensington, which is home to hundreds of residents.
Over 200 firefighters and officers are attending the scene with London Fire Brigade commissioner Dany Cotton labelling the incident as ‘unprecedented’ and confirming the cause was still unknown.
London Ambulance have confirmed 50 people have been taken to five different hospitals.
“At this time I can confirm there have been a number of fatalities but I can’t confirm the number at this time due to the size and complexity of this building and it would be wrong to speculate further,” she said.
“This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never seen anything of this scale. We must recognise firefighters are working very hard at the moment.
“This is a major fire that has affected all floors of this 24 storey building from the second floor upwards. Over 200 firefighters and officers have attended with 40 fire engines and a range of specialist vehicles. Based on the level of resource required we have declared this a major incident very early this morning.
“Our control room has taken multiple calls with the first at 12.54am, our first engines were on the scene in six minutes.
“Crews have been working in extremely challenging and very difficult conditions to rescue people.”
Eyewitnesses report people throwing their children from the building and hearing the screams and shouts of trapped residents.
It is understood a significant number of people remain unaccounted for in the north Kensington tower, which was built in 1974 and is thought to contain 150 residential flats.
The fire started shortly after midnight with London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeting emergency services were dealing with a ‘major incident’ just after 4am.
“Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire,” said assistant commissioner Dan Daly.
“This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances.”
The burning building could be seen from miles around, with the seat of the fire appearing to be on the tenth floor.
Those at the scene report seeing debris falling from the building and hearing the sound of breaking glass.
“We have sent a number of resources to the scene including our hazardous area response team and over 20 ambulance crews,” said Stuart Creighton, assistant director of operations at the London Ambulance Service.
“Our initial priority is to assess the level and nature of injuries and ensure those in the most need are treated first and taken to hospital.”
The tower, which was recently refurbished with a new heating and hot water system, is now at risk of collapse, with a huge cordon set up and surrounding buildings evacuated.
Grenfell Action Group had claimed during the refurbishment that the block was a fire risk and residents had warned that access to the site for emergency vehicles was ‘severely restricted’.
“It’s clearly an absolutely devastating fire and the emergency services and council support offices have been here for a number of hours trying to establish if they are people still in the building,” said councillor Nick Paget-Brown.
“We’ve set up emergency centres nearby, where people have been evacuated too and we are doing as much as we can for them.”
An emergency number has been set up for those concerned about friends and loved ones – 0800 0961 233.