Twelve people died in a huge fire that engulfed a massive West London apartment building on Wednesday, and authorities expect the death toll to rise.
According to police, the inferno ripped through the 20-plus-story Grenfell Tower on the edge of the affluent Notting Hill neighborhood.
The local fire department was alerted just before 1 A.M., and flames could be seen for over 10 hours after the London Fire Brigade arrived.
CNN reports that 74 people have been treated at six hospitals, 20 of which are in critical condition.
Witnesses reported seeing residents jump from the tower, and desperate parents throwing children and babies out of their windows.
One witness recalled a mother tossing her baby out the window on the ninth or 10th floor to safety, telling the AP:
“A woman was gesturing that she was about to throw her baby and if somebody could catch her baby. Somebody did, a gentleman ran forward and managed to grab the baby.”
Resident Paul Menacer was in his seventh-floor apartment at around 2 A.M., but didn’t hear the fire alarm go off. He told the BBC:
“It was only by the sound of people screaming ├óΓé¼╦£Don’t jump, don’t jump off the building’ which I was assuming people must have been doing ├óΓé¼ΓÇ£ that was the only reason why I woke up.”
Witness Muna Ali said the fire “completely spread within half an hour,” recounting:
“The flames, I have never seen anything like it, it just reminded me of 9/11. The fire started on the upper floors … oh my goodness, it spread so quickly. It had completely spread within half an hour.”
Absolutely horrendous fire is ripping through Grenfell Tower. Hope everyone has managed to get out safelyA post shared by Don Gingerillo (@gingerillo) on Jun 13, 2017 at 7:35pm PDT
The cause of the fire has not yet been revealed, but residents told the AP they had repeatedly warned building administrators about a potential fire threat.
Fire Commissioner Danny Cotton said the inferno was unlike anything he’s ever seen before, telling reporters:
“This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never, ever seen anything of this scale.”
Wow. So devastating.
Officials say the blaze is largely contained but the building is still smoldering.
Authorities will soon begin investigating what caused the fire, but UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has already suggested that recent spending cuts may have contributed to the severity of the tragedy.
Our hearts go out to the victims and survivors of this horrible incident. See more footage of the fire and aftermath (below):
[Image via Twitter.]