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London's 27-storey tower block inferno

Press Association logoPress Association 14/06/2017

A huge out-of-control fire has engulfed a 27-storey apartment block in London, trapping an unknown number of people inside the towering inferno where some 200 people live.

Residents are desperately screaming for help from windows on the upper floors as massive flames lick the sides of the council block of 120 apartments.

About 200 firefighters are battling the blaze along with 40 fire engines. Flumes of black and grey smoke are billowing into the air over London hours after the blaze was sparked on Wednesday morning just after midnight.

The London Fire Brigade said the fire had engulfed all floors from the second to the top of the Grenfell Tower on the Lancaster West Estate in west London.

"We are dealing with a really serious fire that spread throughout the building," a spokesman for the fire brigade said.

One witness, Sofia, who lives near the apartment, told BBC radio the fumes were overwhelming at the height of the fire.

"There are people gathered in the street. I see more and more flames burning and tragically I hear people crying for help," she said.

"I heard men screaming for help. Again there's loads of people screaming for help. And they here not getting the help. It's just burning through and they are dying."

Nassima Boutrig, who lives opposite the building, said she was awakened by sirens and smoke so thick that it filled her home as well.

"We saw the people screaming," she said. "A lot of people said 'Help, help, help.' The fire brigade could only help downstairs. It was fire up, up, up. They couldn't stop the fire."

Boutrig said her friend's brother, wife and children lived in the building and that her friend was waiting to find out if they were OK.

Once the sun rose, smoke could be seen from kilometres away.

George Clarke, the presenter of "Amazing Spaces," told Radio 5 Live he was covered in ash even though he was 100 metres away.

He said he saw people waving torches from the top levels of the building and saw rescuers "doing an incredible job" trying to get people out.

Tim Downie, who lives not far away, told the Press Association he feared the building could collapse.

A witness told Reuters that she feared not all the residents had escaped the fire. Some were evacuated in their pyjamas.

"A number of people are being treated for a range of injuries," police said. "Residents continue to be evacuated from the tower block fire."

More than 20 ambulance crews were at the scene and London Mayor Sadiq Khan said a "major incident" had been declared. Police closed the A40, a major road leading out of west London.

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