Horrific Fire at Grenfell Tower in London

[Content Note: Fire; injury; death; displacement. Please note there are images of the building in flames at nearly every news article.]

A blaze engulfed the 24-story residential building Grenfell Tower in west London overnight, killing at least six people and injuring dozens more. NHS England has reported that 74 people have been transferred to hospitals for treatment, 20 of whom are in critical care. The Metropolitan Police say they expect the number of fatalities to rise after the "truly shocking" fire.
Hundreds of firefighters battled to rescue residents from their flats after the blaze broke out, shortly before 1am. The fire rapidly engulfed the full height of the 24-storey block, and was still burning strongly more than six hours later, with a thick pall of dark smoke visible across the capital.

Residents could be seen waving and screaming from their windows, as firefighters wearing breathing apparatus fought to rescue them. There were unconfirmed reports from a number of witnesses who spoke of seeing residents jump from their homes as they were engulfed by flames.

The London fire commissioner, Dany Cotton, had earlier confirmed there had been fatalities as a result of the "unprecedented" fire.

"In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never ever seen anything of this scale," she said. "This is a major fire that has affected all floors of this 24-storey building, from the second floor upwards."
Residents had reportedly been concerned about fire safety for at least five years:
However, it has emerged that concerns about fire safety in the tower were raised as early as 2012, when a health and safety review found firefighting equipment had not been checked for up to four years. A residents' group also raised concerns about the single emergency exit to the building in 2016, warning that if that exit were to become blocked in a fire, people would be trapped inside.

In a blogpost on Wednesday morning, the Grenfell Action Group said: "We have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in [the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea]. ALL OUR WARNINGS FELL ON DEAF EARS and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time."
Horrible. I feel sick reading that, imagining how profoundly angry, frustrated, and grief-stricken the residents' group must feel that their urgent warnings went unheeded.

My condolences to the surviving residents of Grenfell Tower, and to the families, friends, colleagues, and neighbors of those whose lives were lost. My thoughts are with those who were injured. My sympathies for the hundreds of people who have lost their homes.

The Guardian is posting live updates here.

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