Huge fire engulfs tower block in west London

A massive fire has broken out in a 27-floor block of flats in west London with witnesses claiming residents are trapped inside.

The London Fire Brigade said 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters were battling the blaze which had engulfed all floors from the second to the top of the Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate in the early hours of Wednesday.

Flumes of black and grey smoke billowed into the air over London hours after the blaze was sparked.

“A number of people being treated for a range of injuries,” police said. “Residents continue to be evacuated from the tower block fire.”

The cause of the fire is not known at this stage, the Fire Brigade said.

It has emerged that residents of Grenfell Tower voiced concerns about the building’s fire safety.

“It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders,” members of the Grenfell Action Group said in a blog dated November 2016.

“It is our conviction that a serious fire in a tower block or similar high density residential property is the most likely reason that those who wield power at the KCTMO will be found out and brought to justice.”

Al Jazeera’s Laurence Lee, reporting from London, said “there were serious and long-standing complaints by the residents”.

Witnesses at the scene confirmed hearing people screaming for help from inside the building and also tying towels and bedsheets to try and escape from the windows before being advised against doing that by the police.

Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with the fire at Latimer Road in west London [Toby Melville/Reuters]

“The entire building is on fire, the flames are going from the ground to the roof,” Jeff Howard, a witness, told Al Jazeera.

“The flames are now making their way around the building, almost to the point where they are coming together. I heard helicopters over my building around 1:45am and there was a bit of screaming outside.”

Police said in a statement they were called at 1:16am (0016 GMT) “to reports of a large fire at a block of flats in the Lancaster West Estate”.

They said an evacuation of the block was “underway” and at least two people were being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said a “major incident” had been declared.

Al Jazeera’s Mina Harballo, reporting from London, said the main worry for the fire fighters was the people still inside the building,

“The lifts stop working when there’s a fire so there might be some people, including the elderly still stuck inside the building,” she said.

“Police have evacuated houses around the building and we’ve heard from fire fighters.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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