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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Grenfell Tower inferno: People jumping from 12-14th floors, say witnesses

LONDON - A massive fire ripped through a 27-storey apartment block in west London in the early hours of Wednesday, trapping residents inside as 200 firefighters battled the blaze.

Witnesses could hear screaming from the upper floors as the flames rose and one desperate resident could be seen waving a white cloth.

Police and fire services attempted to evacuate the concrete block and said “a number of people are being treated for a range of injuries”, including at least two for smoke inhalation.

Frantic families at the scene attempted to call their loved ones stuck inside and were being directed by police to a nearby restaurant where some of the injured were being treated.

A witness said he saw people jumping from 12-14th floors of the burning building, CNN reported.

Nassima Boutrig, who lives opposite the building, said she was awakened by sirens and smoke so thick that it filled her home as well.

“We saw the people screaming,” she said.

“A lot of people said ‘Help, help, help.’ The fire brigade could only help downstairs. It was fire up, up, up. They couldn’t stop the fire.”

Boutrig said her friend’s brother, wife and children lived in the building and that her friend was waiting to find out if

London mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “Major incident declared at Grenfell Tower”.

Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives nearby, said: “It’s horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It’s gone. It’s just a matter of time before this building collapses”.

Police said in a statement they were called at 1:16 am (8:16 am Hong Kong time) “to reports of a large fire at a block of flats in the Lancaster West Estate”.

The public housing apartment block was built in 1974.

Local residents had warned a year ago about a potential fire risk caused by rubbish being allowed to accumulate during improvement works.

“This matter is of particular concern as there is only one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during the improvement works,” read a blog post by the Greenfell Action Group.

“The potential for a fire to break out in the communal area on the walkway does not bear thinking about as residents would be trapped in the building with no way out,” it said.

George Clarke, the presenter of Amazing Spaces, told Radio 5 Live he was covered in ash even though he was 100 meters from the scene.

“I was in bed and heard ‘beep, beep, beep’ and thought, ‘I’ll get up and run downstairs as quickly as I could.’

“I thought it might be a car alarm outside and saw the glow through the windows. I’m getting covered in ash, that’s how bad it is. I’m 100 meters away and I’m absolutely covered in ash,” he continued.

“It’s so heartbreaking, I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.” – South China Morning Post

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