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Smoke billowing from London Grenfell Tower
Smoke billowing from London Grenfell Tower

Several Killed in London High-Rise Blaze

Several Killed in London High-Rise Blaze

Fire swept through a high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday, killing at least six people and sending more than 50 people to area hospitals.
Flames shot from windows all the way up the 24-story Grenfell Tower in North Kensington as more than 200 firefighters battled the blaze. A plume of smoke stretched for miles (kilometers) over the capital, AP reported.
“This is an unprecedented incident,” Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters on the scene. “In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never, ever seen anything of this scale.”
Cotton said a number of people died in the fire, but she couldn’t confirm how many because of the size and complexity of the building. Witnesses said that they saw people jumping from the upper floors.                      

The London Fire Brigade received the first reports of the fire at 12:54 a.m. and the first engines arrived within six minutes, she said.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known. Residents said the blaze appeared to start in an apartment on a lower floor and spread upward quickly.
People at the scene spoke of being unable to reach friends and family inside. Others said they could see people inside using flashlights and mobile phones to try to signal for help from higher floors.
“There were no fire alarms,” said Edward Daffarn 55, who was warned by a neighbor to flee. “There was heavy smoke in the hallway. I could not find the stairs.”
At St. Clement’s Church, where evacuees gathered, Hadra Hassad was trying to find one of her closest friends, who lived on the 21st floor. Hassad says she believes one of her friend’s daughters is in a hospital, but didn’t know which one.
Ambulances and fire trucks filled the streets around the building, which is located in a diverse, working class area of London. People who live nearby were evacuated, some carrying pets in their arms as they left. Volunteers handed out bottled water.
Helicopters hovered overhead and smoke hung over the scene. Exhausted firefighters sprawled on the pavement just inside the police cordon, drinking water from plastic bottles.
“Crews wearing breathing apparatus and extended duration breathing apparatus have been working in extremely challenging and difficult conditions to rescue people and bring this major fire under control,” Cotton said.
Tower was built in 1974 and contains 120 homes, according to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

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