30 people killed in massive fire at 24-story London apartment, number expected to rise

LONDON (KUSI) — 6/16/2017 — The death toll from a fire that engulfed a London high rise apartment building has risen to 30 and is expected to continue growing, London police said. 

Currently, 24 victims of the fire are being treated for their wounds, including 12 in critical condition, according to Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy.

The cause of the fire is still unknown at this time, however authorities said they’ve examined the original location of fire and there is no indication it was started deliberately. 

Relatives of those missing are searching frantically for their loved ones, as the police commander in charge of the investigation said he hopes the death toll will not rise to three figures.

It is believed that not all of the victims will be identifiable because of the severity of the burns.

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a 5 million pound ($6.4 million) fund Friday following a meeting with survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

This comes after the news that London Mayor Sadiq Khan wrote an open letter to the prime minister demanding her plans to help those affected by the fire. The package includes a guarantee to rehouse people as close as possible to where they previously lived, either in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea or in neighboring boroughs.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince William arrived at a west London site where community groups gathered supplies for those affected by the tower fire disaster. The queen is meeting with volunteers Friday. The monarch expressed her sympathies to families of victims who died in the blaze.

6/14/2017 5:30 p.m. (1:30 a.m.) — Grenfell Tower residents reportedly voiced their concerns about building safety years before the devastating fire.

In the summer of 2016, the building underwent a massive refurbishment, which included insulated exterior cladding, new double-glazed windows and a new communal heating system, with "the goal of improving energy efficiency."

The refurbishment also included improvements for fire safety.

According to CNN, the company that managed Grenfell Tower had recently placed their fire safety policy under review, but the principal contractor said all building and safety regulations had been met.

But in November of 2016, a blogger argued that only "a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord … and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders."

Terry O’Neil, former head of fire engineering at London Fire Brigade, told CNN the fire appeared to "spread rapidly from the outside of the building."

CNN reports the company that installed the cladding on the exterior of the building saw no "link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower.”

Managing Director Ray Bailey said: “Our thoughts are with the residents and their families who have suffered such a personal loss. We will fully support and cooperate with the investigations into this fire. There will be many questions about this whole incident and so you will appreciate that it would not be appropriate for us to comment or for others to speculate on any aspect of fire or it causes in advance of these inquiries. At this time, we are not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower.”

11:00 a.m. (7:00 p.m.) — Twelve people were killed and nearly 80 people were injured in a blaze that engulfed a 24-story apartment building in London overnight. 

More than 200 firefighters worked to tamper down small pockets of flames that continued to burn Wednesday. About 600 people lived in the Grenfell Tower complex and several were still missing. 

The London Fire Brigade reported that crews rescued at least 65 people from the building, adding that firefighters were able to reach every floor.

Authorities anticipate the death toll to rise and added police do not expect to find any more survivors. 

6/13/2017 10:23 p.m. (6:23 a.m.) — The London Ambulance Service posted on Twitter that 30 patients were taken to local hospitals for treatment.

As rescue efforts continued, people took to social media, posting photos of friends and family, asking for help in locating them.

Robert Rowe, former fire marshal, told CNN the building’s sprinkler system should have immediately stopped the flames from spreading.

He said he suspects the fire sprinkler system "was out of service or there was a malfunction at the time."

"What a fire sprinkler does, is stop it immediately, you won’t have a fire of [that] magnitude," Rowe said. "It would stop it right there."

London Council Leader Nick Paget-Brown said authorities were working to establish how many people were injured and how many people had died.

"It’s an absolutely devastating fire," he said.

9:41 p.m. (5:41 a.m.) — The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea have activated a major emergency plan in response to the Grenfell Tower fire, according to CNN.

A local council spokesperson said authority liaison officers were working with emergency services at the scene and an emergency rest center was open for evacuees.

Witnesses in the area said they said people jumping out of windows, trying to escape the flames.

9:12 p.m. (5:12 a.m.) — As dawn broke in London, the flames were beginning to die down in the 27-story apartment building, as firefighters continued a massive rescue effort to find any residents still trapped inside.

The London Ambulance Service reported that more than 20 ambulances were called to an area near the apartment building to help with a range of injuries.

According to CNN, Grenfell Tower is located in North Kensington in West London, near the Latimer Road Underground station and Notting Hill.

Witness Tim Downie told CNN he saw residents of Grenfell Tower being evacuated, but knew many more must still be inside.

"Most people had just woken up," he said. "It’s just a horror, watching their homes just burn and nothing they can do."

8:01 p.m. (4:01 a.m.) — A massive fire broke out early Wednesday morning (BST) inside a 27-story apartment building in West London.

According to CNN, approximately 200 firefighters and 40 fire trucks were on scene fighting the flames, as rescue teams worked to evacuate the building. 

"Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire. This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances." Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly said in a statement on Facebook.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. 

This is a developing story and will be updated as information becomes available. 

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