Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Huge fire engulfs 27-floor London tower block


12 people are now known to have died in the tower block blaze in west London. Firefighters have been pulled out of the tower.

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

The Kensington and Chelsea Council, which oversees the area where the fire occurred and is Grenfell's landlord, said in a statement its immediate focus was helping victims and their families.

But in 2009, three women and three children were killed by a fire in the 14-storey Lakanal House, in south London, which started with a TV set on the ninth floor.

Newly-added aluminium cladding on Grenfell Tower has been blamed for helping the fire to quickly spread across the building.

"One year ago the council renovated the building both externally and internally", Sha said. The woman, named locally as Nura Jamal, called her friend at around 2am and said: "Forgive me, the fire is here, I'm dying".

The blaze started around 1 a.m. London time, and smoke was still pouring from the building hours later.

People outside were shouting at firefighters to use more water on the fire as "there are people in there burning to death".

The group said there was one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during improvement works at the block in Latimer Rd and it had issues with evacuation procedures at the building.

The apartment block was built in 1974.

"All high-rises are sprinklered".

There is no legal requirement for local authorities to retrofit sprinklers to tower blocks.

Michael Paramaseevan, who lives on the seventh floor of the Grenfell Tower apartment building with his partner and young daughter, told the BBC he ignored official safety advice to stay in his apartment in the event of a fire.

The tower is managed by the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO) on behalf of the council.

The teenager's aunt Ana Ospina, a make-up artist, said: "She last spoke to her mum when she borrowed a phone and told her she was on the stairs with other people".

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The fire broke out not long after midnight when many residents were asleep.

"But they are not a total solution".

Coroner Frances Kirkham wrote to the government recommending a review of building regulations, "with particular regard to the spread of fire over the external envelope of the building", especially if renovations or refurbishments might reduce existing fire protection.

Grenfell Tower was fitted with zinc rain-screen cladding and glazed curtain walling after the 10-million-pounds refurbishment previous year. Stuart Cundy said that "we believe this number will sadly increase". The project included installation of insulated exterior cladding, double-glazed windows and a communal heating system. Cladding was added during the recent renovations.

"Everyone I have spoken to on the frontline - the fire, the police, the ambulance services - resources have not been the issue", he said.

A newsletter from Rydon sent to residents after the refurbishment said that smoke detection systems had been "upgraded and extended".

The position of our fire safety strategy is in line with most other local authorities.

Metropolitan Police in London say they're continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. "There was heavy smoke in the hallway".

It is understood that "several hundred" people would have been in the block when the fire broke out shortly after midnight, a lot of them sleeping.

Why are people told to "stay put"?

Emergency teams have been seen carrying bodies from the remains of the building.

Survivors told of frantic attempts to escape during the nighttime fire.

How will other buildings be affected?

"There will be a great many questions over the coming days as to the cause of this tragedy, and I want to reassure Londoners that we will get all the answers", Khan said.

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