Fire swept through a highrise apartment building in west London Wednesday, killing at least a dozen people. They banged on windows, screamed for help, dropped children from smoky floors in a desperate attempt to save them. Terrified residents of the Grenfell Tower said there was little warning of the inferno that engulfed their highrise apartment building and left 12 people dead — a toll that officials said would almost certainly rise.
The blaze early Wednesday in the 24-storey building in west London’s North Kensington district also injured 79 others, 18 of them critically, and left an unknown number missing. More than 200 firefighters worked through the night and were still finding pockets of fire inside later in the day.
“In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never, ever seen anything of this scale,” Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said.
Up to 600 people lived in 120 apartments.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s office said she was “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life” in the fire. Mayor Sadiq Khan said many questions must be answered about safety for the scores of other apartment blocks around the British capital.
Survivors told of attempts to escape during the fire.
Samira Lamrani said she saw a woman drop a baby from a window on the ninth or 10th floor to people on the sidewalk.
When the woman indicated she was going to drop the infant, “a gentleman ran forward and managed to grab the baby,” she said.
Joe Walsh, 58, said he saw someone toss two children out a window on the fifth or sixth floor. Tiago Etienne, 17, said he saw about three children between the ages of four and eight being dropped from around the 15th floor. There was no word on their fate.
Other residents told tales of their own escapes and frustration at not being able to help.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS