London fire: Met Police confirm six deaths in Grenfell Tower block blaze

Death toll expected to rise after flames engulfed 24-storey building in West London

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Wednesday 14 June 2017 12:17
London fire: Flames engulf Grenfell Tower in Kensington

At least six people have died in the fire at Grenfell Tower in London, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed, warning that the number of fatalities is expected to rise.

Flames engulfed the West London tower block overnight, with 200 firefighters fighting to tackle the blaze as residents fought to make their way out of the burning building.

Witnesses described inhabitants screaming from windows as people frantically searched for loved ones who lived inside the 24-storey block in West Kensington.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said: "Our thoughts are with everyone involved in this truly shocking fire at Grenfell Tower.

"I can confirm six fatalities at this time but this figure is likely to rise during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days. Many others are receiving medical care."

More than 50 people were being treated in five hospitals across the capital, as many people remained "unaccounted for."

It follows repeated warnings from residents that the building was unsafe, and comes just months after one resident action group warned the building posed a fire risk.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said questions would have to be answered as to why residents were told to remain inside flats in the event of a fire.

A newsletter to residents in 2014 said the building had a "stay put" policy which worked because the block had been designed according to “rigorous fire safety standards”.

The newsletter, published by The Guardian, read: "Our longstanding ‘stay put’ policy stays in force until you are told otherwise. This means that (unless there is a fire in your flat or in the hallway outside your flat) you should stay inside your flat. This is because Grenfell was designed according to rigorous fire safety standards. Also, the new front doors for each flat can withstand a fire for up to 30 minutes, which gives plenty of time for the fire brigade to arrive."

The Met Police said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire, which was believed to have taken hold around 1am on Wednesday.