Blog Eerily Predicted Deadly London High-Rise Blaze
Residents had long warned about fire safety
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2017 5:00 AM CDT
Updated Jun 14, 2017 6:21 AM CDT
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Smoke billows from a high-rise apartment building on fire in west London Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Fire swept through the high-rise apartment building early Wednesday, sending dozens people to area hospitals.   (Rick Findler/PA via AP)
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(Newser) – Lives were definitely lost in the nightmarish blaze that engulfed a high-rise apartment building in London early Wednesday, authorities say. Six deaths have been confirmed and at least 50 other people are being treated in the hospital after the fire at the 24-story Grenfell Tower in west London. The death toll "is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days," says Police Commander Stuart Cundy. The fire, which started around 1am, burned through the night despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters. The fire stretched from the second to the 24th floor and witnesses tell the BBC they saw trapped people, including children, screaming for help from the building's upper floors. The latest:

  • London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said at 9:40am London time that firefighters had been able to access all floors for the first time, the Evening Standard reports. "This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never ever seen anything of this scale," she said. Cotton wouldn't speculate on the cause of the blaze.

  • There had long been concerns about fire safety in the building, which was completed in 1974 and renovated last year, reports the Guardian. In the Grenfell Action Group blog, residents repeatedly warned about issues including safety equipment that hadn't been checked in years. "Only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence or our landlord," they warned in November last year, adding that the event would probably be a fire, and the blog would serve as "damning evidence of the poor safety record."
  • Relatives are desperately searching for loved ones, including children and elderly people, missing after the blaze, the Telegraph reports. Officials believe there were up to 600 people in the building when the fire broke out.
  • The former chief of the residents' association tells CNN that amid serious safety concerns, residents tried to get the management association to change its "stay put" policy, which recommended that residents stay in their apartments in the event of a fire.
  • Resident Paul Munakr tells the BBC that he was alerted to the fire not by alarms, but by hearing people in the street shouting "Don't jump." He was on the seventh floor and managed to get out safely. "As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly amazing firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out the building as possible," he says. Other survivors also say they did not hear fire alarms go off.
  • Witnesses described harrowing scenes involving trapped residents. Samira Lamrani told the Press Association that she saw a woman drop a baby out of a window to a man who was able to catch it. Other witnesses say they saw people leap from the building or try to use garbage bags as makeshift parachutes.
  • Lucas Alexander, who lives in a nearby building, tells BuzzFeed that he saw flames race up the side of the building incredibly quickly. "There were a lot of people hanging out of the windows, screaming, crying for help," he says "There was this one window where they'd tied bedsheets together to make a makeshift rope—two people were hanging off the rope. People's houses were literally burning from the inside out," he says.
  • Churches and community centers opened their doors to survivors, many of whom fled wearing only pajamas. Nearby buildings were also evacuated. LBC reports that centers have been set up for Londoners to donate goods including clothes, blankets, and toys.

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