London Housing Project Fire Kills At Least Six

Residents of the high-rise said all previous warnings to building managers had "fallen on deaf ears"

The scene of the fire in London — Getty Images
Jun 14, 2017 at 5:25 AM ET

A fire that tore through a housing project in west London has killed at least six people, injured dozens, and many more are missing, according to the London Fire Brigade.

Ambulance services said 74 people were being treated in six hospitals after the blaze engulfed the 27-story building in north Kensington, an area once known for its slum housing but which has in recent years undergone gentrification. The fire broke out just after 1:00 am local time when most residents were asleep.

“This is an unprecedented incident,” said London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton. “In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”

On early Wednesday morning authorities said they believed residents to still be trapped inside.

A number of those inside said they’d been advised to stay in their apartments in the event of a fire and that their units were fire-proof for at least an hour.

Witnesses said they saw a woman hold her baby out a window as fire and smoke surrounded her. At least one person was reported to have fallen into the flames.

The block’s residents association had previously warned it was worried about the risk of a serious fire.

In a blog post in November, the Grenfell Action Group accused the Kensington and Chelsea Tenants’ Management Organization (KCTMO), which manages the 120-home social housing block on behalf of the local authority, of allowing “dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation.”

“ALL OUR WARNINGS FELL ON DEAF EARS and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time,” the group said in a blog post on Wednesday, in which it linked to recent posts that flagged the authorities about the building’s infrastructural risks.

Authorities said they would set up an investigation to determine the cause of the fire.

London mayor Sadiq Khan told BBC Radio that there were questions that would need to be answered after the fire.

“Across London we have many, many tower blocks and what we can’t have is a situation where people’s safety is put at risk because of bad advice being given or if it is the case, as has been alleged, of tower blocks not being properly serviced or maintained,” he said.