A MASSIVE blaze has destroyed a high-rise block of flats in west London with witnesses reporting people caught in the flames, screaming for help and throwing themselves from the building.
Residents who escaped the fire at the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in north Kensington spoke of others trapped, with some holding children from windows and others jumping from upper floors.
The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Nick Paget-Brown said “several hundred” people would have been in the block when the fire broke out.
Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives around 600 metres from the scene in Latimer Road, told the Press Association he feared the block could collapse.
He said: “It’s horrendous. The whole building is engulfed in flames. It’s gone. It’s just a matter of time before this building collapses.
“It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen. The first I knew was the noise of sirens, helicopters and shouting. I saw it engulfed in flames.
“People have been bringing water, clothes, anything they’ve got to help, out to the cordon.
“I have seen people coming out in their bedclothes - it’s just very distressing.”
Jody Martin said he got to the scene just as the first fire engine was arriving.
He told the BBC: “I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window... hearing screams, I was yelling everyone to get down and they were saying ‘We can’t leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors’,” he said.
Mr Paget-Brown told Sky News: “Clearly it’s an absolutely devastating fire.
“Several hundred would have been in there. It’s a question of establishing how many people were in there at the time of the fire.”
Fabio Bebber wrote on Twitter: “More screams for help as the fire spreads to another side of the building.
“We can see how quick the fire spreads via the external panels. It’s unbearable hearing someone screaming for their lives at #grenfelltower.”
George Clarke, who presents the Channel 4 TV show 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.”
A residents action group said their warnings about safety had fallen on “deaf ears”. A blog post from the Grenfell Action Group from November 2016 said “only a catastrophic event” would expose the concerns residents had.
The group said there was one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during improvement works at the block and it had issues with evacuation procedures.
Following the fire, the group posted: “All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”Pictures from the scene showed flames engulfing the block and a plume of smoke visible across the capital, while others showed residents looking out of windows in the block.