'No warning' in London building blaze

15 June 2017, 01:30 | Santos Harmon

Fire engulfed a high-rise block of apartments in central London on Wednesday, killing at least six people and injuring 74. "I can not confirm the number at this time", Dany Cotton said as early reports indicated no fewer than six were killed.

Steve Apter, director of safety and assurance at London Fire Brigade, said: "I can confirm I have had firefighters manage to get through particularly arduous conditions up to the top floor".

All 24 floors of Grenfell Tower in North Kensington were swiftly engulfed, trapping residents in their homes and reportedly forcing some to jump to escape the flames. "A lot of people said, 'Help!"

Its £8.7 million (9.9 million euro, $11 million) refurbishment was completed past year and included new cladding covering the whole of the exterior, which residents blamed for spreading the fire.

"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!" a residents organization, the Grenfell Action Group, wrote in a blog post a year ago.

Judith Blakeman, a local councillor, said the management organisation had reassured those living in the tower about fire safety on a number of occasions.

Other witnesses spoke of children, including a baby being thrown to safety, from windows high up.

Survivors said they felt likely to be alive.

The fire, which was believed to have begun on one of the lower floors of the 120-unit building, was still burning as of noon in London, some 11 hours after it began.

One woman said her friend inside for three hours and was told by police to wait and put towels down to block the doors.

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"We declared a major incident very early, which meant not just the fire service but also the London Ambulance Service, the police and the others were involved at the scene", Khan said.

A July 2014 newsletter for residents said the tower building was designed "according to rigorous fire safety standards" and recommended that residents stay inside their apartments in the case of a fire. "If we had stayed in that flat, we would've perished", he said.

Prime Minister Theresa May's office said she was "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life" in the fire.

Edward Daffarn, a 55-year-old who lived on the building's 16th floor, said the fire alarm didn't ring.

Another resident, Zoe, who lives on the fourth floor, said she was woken by a neighbor banging on her door.

Officials did not immediately know what caused the blaze. People at the scene said that they were unable to reach their friends and family. High-rise buildings are created to resist fire, stop the spread of smoke and provide a safe means of escape.

"Seeing people die in front of you." he stared at the sidewalk as his voice trailed off.

A residents' group said its repeated warnings about fire risks had been ignored.

The Kensington and Chelsea Council, which oversees the area where the fire occurred, said in a statement its immediate focus was helping victims and their families. "I think it's unlikely there will be any announcement today", a spokesman for the Northern Irish party told AFP. It said the cause of the blaze would be "fully investigated".



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