A deadly nighttime fire raced through a 24-story apartment tower in London early Wednesday, June 14, killing at least 17 people and injuring dozens more. Some desperate residents threw their children from high windows, hoping someone on the ground would catch them.
Police commander Stuart Cundy said there were six confirmed fatalities, adding that the figure was likely to rise “during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days.”
People in the apartments cornered by the quickly advancing flames and thick smoke banged on windows and screamed for help to those watching down below, witnesses and survivors said.
Flames from the inferno lit up the night, and smoke spewed from the windows of the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, where more than 200 firefighters battled the blaze and went into the building with breathing apparatus. After dawn revealed the blackened, flame-licked wreckage of the building, a plume of black smoke stretched for miles across the pale sky.
“This is an unprecedented incident,” Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters on the scene. “In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never, ever seen anything of this scale.”
The London Fire Brigade received the first reports of the fire at 12:54 a.m., and the first engines arrived within six minutes, she said. Flames could still be seen more than 10 hours later.
There was no immediate word on the cause, but angry residents said they had repeatedly warned about a potential fire threat. One resident said the fire alarm did not go off. (AP)