Fire engulfs London apartment block0:30
Two hundred firefighters and 40 fire engines are battling a large fire in an apartment block in west London.
TWO hundred firefighters are tackling a massive blaze at a block of flats in central London with reports desperate residents had to build ropes from sheets to escape the inferno.
Forty engines were called to the scene at just after 1.15am this morning local time (10.15 AEST) at the 27-storey Grenfell Tower, on the Lancaster West Estate near White City in the British capital’s west.
Social media pictures from the scene show one side of the tall block of flats engulfed in flames.
The Metropolitan Police said two people were being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and cordons were in place across the area. They did not comment on reports residents were heard screaming from the area and reportedly escaped some flats close to the ground.
Authorities have confirmed residents are being treated for a range of injuries. It’s not known how many people are hurt, or how serious their injuries are.
“Listen to me ... listen ... if you know people inside, tell them to self evacuate ... do not wait for the fire brigade.
“If you get a phone call or twitter tell them, you tell them, to get out now.”
The police then told the crowd to tell their friends and family to put a wet tea towel over their face, get beneath the smoke and get out.
An unconfirmed report suggested some residents may have jumped from the burning building.
One woman who was trapped in the building live tweeted her experience as she tried to escape.
Also read: Tower blocks in Wales: How safe are they?
Police are pushing people back from the area for fear the building will collapse as debris has started to fall from the tower.
“Police officers, the London Fire Brigade and the London Ambulance Service are currently at the scene,” Metropolitan Police said in a statement.
“An evacuation process is underway. At this stage we are aware of two people being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. We await an update as to whether there are any further injuries.”
Police confirmed a cordon was being enlarged amid fears the tower could collapse with debris already falling about the area.
Witnesses reported the blaze began on the fourth floor of the 120 unit block and they could see residents shouting and screaming from other floors shortly before formal fire brigade and police evacuations began.
George Clarke, the presenter of Amazing Spaces, told Radio 5 Live: “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 metres away and I’m absolutely covered in ash.
“It’s so heartbreaking, I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.
“The guys are doing an incredible job to try and get people out that building, but it’s truly awful.”
“Fourth floor there was a fire in an apartment then it went to the fifth and the sixth, then it caught on the left, then it caught on the right then just went all the way around (building),” one witness said in a social media video post.
“You can see people are still in the building … big fat blocks are falling down on the fire brigade, crazy. It’s been going on for two or three hours. Chaos, chaos, so many people are still in there. So many fire brigade are trying to go in to save people. The fire is moving around the building as well … all my days … ”
In his lengthy post he used his camera phone to zoom into windows were people were screaming for help.
The block, which is located beside Kensington Aldridge Academy school contains 120 homes. It was built in 1974.
The tower block was recently given a major £10m (A$17 million) refurbishment which took two years and was finished in May last year.
According to a media release at the time improvements included “the installation of insulated exterior cladding, new double glazed windows and a new communal heating system.
“All of this will greatly enhance the energy efficiency of the tower and help reduce residents’ living costs.”