A huge blaze ripped through a tower block close to Westfield shopping centre in the early hours of Wednesday morning, with many residents trapped within the building as the fire spread rapidly.
More than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines battled the inferno in Grenfell Tower, as witnesses reported seeing people jump from windows in an attempt to save themselves.
At least 30 people have been confirmed dead in Wednesday’s blaze as of Friday afternoon, while it’s understood that up to 76 people could still be missing. Tragically some of the bodies of those trapped in the tower may never be identified due to the intensity of the heat.
Twenty-four people remain in hospital, with 12 believed to be in critical care. Kensington and Chelsea have re-homed 109 people, while an outpouring of donations from the local community has seen hundreds of pairs of shoes, countless garments donated as well as food, bedding and money.
Many fund-raising concerts and event are being organised for the victims and families of the victims to help them begin to repair their lives. The Royal College of Music Philharmonic to hold fundraiser concert for Grenfell Tower residents on June 22. For more information on the concert click here.
Small explosions could be heard as the blaze shattered windows in the tower, while debris and ash fell to the ground. London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton confirmed on Wednesday that there had been a number of fatalities. “I cannot confirm the number at this time due to the size and complexity of this building,” she said.
The tower block had recently undergone an extensive internal and external refurbishment, but residents had expressed concern over the lack of emergency exits. Construction firm Rydon which undertook the refurbishment last year, said it is “shocked to hear of the devastating fire” adding that the work “met all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards”.
In November 2016, Grenfell Action Group warned that “only a catastrophic event” would expose the issues residents had with the building – including its one entry and exit and concerns about evacuation procedures.
New MP for Kensington Emma Dent Coad said “every single person” will be looked after following the fire.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:“I’m truly devastated to see the horrific scenes of the major fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington. I have been in constant contact throughout the night with the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Dany Cotton, who has been at the scene.
“More than 250 firefighters are at the scene and there have been more than 100 medics in attendance, as well as 100 police officers. I want to thank our incredible firefighters and emergency services for their immense courage, dedication and professionalism.
“Tragically, six people are now confirmed to have died as a result of the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower. Seventy-four people are being treated in hospitals including Royal Free, King’s, St Thomas’s, St Mary’s, Chelsea and Westminster and Charing Cross.
“The Metropolitan Police have warned that this figure is likely to rise as a complex recovery operation takes place over the coming days. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims and everyone 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.”
A donation centre has opened at nearby Clements Church for clothes, toys and toiletries for the displaced families. Anyone concerned for loved ones can call an emergency hotline on 0800 0961 233.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has offered free hospitality to those who have been affected by the “terrible fire at Grenfell Tower”.
“You are all welcome to come hang out in my restaurant and be fed and watered by my Jamies Italian team. We are in the Westfield just around the corner. Food and drink free of charge.”
Any children who have been affected by the fire can call Childline on 0800 1111. Their counsellors are ready to speak with any children who may be worried about friends or family that may live in the block.
The blaze has caused the A40 to close in both directions and there is no service on the Circle Line or the Hammersmith and City Line between Hammersmith and Edgware Road. Tickets are being accepted on bus routes.