What's Happening In London? A Fire Sparks Massive Evacuations
A major incident unfolded overnight in London, as a large fire reportedly engulfed a residential high rise building in West London. Over 200 firefighters have been fighting the blaze since 1 a.m. BST and media outlets are reporting the many people inside the building are "still unaccounted for."
The fire occurred at Grenfell Tower, a 24-story apartment building near Notting Hill. The building is heavily populated and contains 120 homes. According to CNN, the blaze, which engulfed nearly the entire building, had been mostly extinguished by 5 a.m. BST, but a significant amount of smoke is still pouring from the building. Fire fighters are reportedly still working to free people trapped inside the building, though The Guardian stated that these reports are unconfirmed.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared the fire a "major incident" and said via Twitter that he has been in close contact with emergency services. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea also activated a "major emergency plan" in order to treat those with injuries and provide evacuees with shelter.
London's Fire Brigade announced on Twitter that a police cordon has been established around the building and that 30 nearby flats were evacuated by police as a safety measure. The Brigade also noted in a statement that, at this point, the cause of the fire is unknown.
Family members are anxiously awaiting news about their loved ones and have gathered near the site to try to secure information. Police are currently attempting to determine who was evacuated from the building and who remains missing.
Official reports on the numbers of injured and missing remain scare at this point. However, the London Ambulance Service reported at 6:15 a.m. local time that they had taken 30 patients to five London hospitals. Nick Paget-Brown, the leader of Kensington and Chelsea council, also stated in an interview with Sky News UK that he was currently working to establish how many people were in the building when the fire broke out and noted that "several hundred would have been in there." However, Paget-Brown also said he did not know whether people were trapped in the building, saying "That's a matter for the emergency services."
Several people have taken to Twitter asking for information about their loved ones, from whom they were separated during the blaze. Other Twitter users who live in the West London area have promptly offered food and shelter to anyone needing assistance.
The Grenfell Tower fire marks another awful tragedy for the city of London in a very short amount of time and people around the world are sending Londoners messages of love and comfort in this very trying time.