Blaze engulfs London apartment building, trapping people inside


Over 200 firefighters and over 40 fire engines battled a massive and devastating fire in London throughout the night, that destroyed a 27-story apartment building, where potentially hundreds of people lived and many were trapped in the inferno.

The fire in the Grenfell Tower in the North Kensington area of West London reportedly broke out just after 1:00 am local time, when most people were already asleep.  Local officials were still struggling to determine exactly how many people lived in the building.

Residents in neighboring apartment buildings could only watch helplessly, as the fire quickly spread and they heard the screams of people trapped inside the building.

The London Fire Brigade reported the fire extended from the second to the 27th floor. Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said: “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.“

CNN reported one witness, Michael Kyriakou, as saying one side of the entire building was engulfed in flames around 15 minutes after it started, all the way to the top of the building.

Some residents were able to escape just in their bathrobes and slippers, but many witness reported both seeing people jumping from the building and hearing people screaming for help as they were trapped inside. Emergency workers asked local residents if they could provide coats and shoes for the victims who had escaped.

Several witnesses detailed the horror through Twitter posts and video. They reported seeing people trapped in the windows, and shining flashlights to draw attention to their location… until finally all that could be seen at the windows was more fire, and the screaming subsided.

Other witnesses reported receiving phone calls from their friends trapped inside, but when they tried to call back, there was no answer.  One local resident, Ness Davis, said a close friend of hers called her from inside the building, but all she would say is, “It’s hot, it’s hot, it’s hot.” Then nothing.

Many Muslims reportedly live in the area surrounding the tower, and were awake at the time the fire broke out, in order to have their early morning meal before sunrise, in observance of Ramadan. Some people inside the building were also awake for the same reason.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted that the fire was a “Major incident.”

At 6:15 am local time, the London Ambulance service released a statement that they had taken 30 patients to five London hospitals.

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