London residents raised concerns months before fire


A fast-moving overnight fire engulfed a 24-story apartment tower in London on Wednesday, killing at least 12 people and injuring 74 others, police said.

Police confirmed that 12 people died but they expect to toll to rise after a complex recovery operation that will last days.

Group Commander of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) Geoff Summerville described the blaze in London as an "unprecedented incident, one which we haven't seen the like of for years". Desperately trying to avoid the flames, residents threw one baby and other small children from high windows to people down on the sidewalk, witnesses said.

"He called us this morning to say the flats were on fire and he couldn't breathe".

Others said that a single staircase in the middle of the building was an inadequate escape route for the building's 500-plus residents.

In a statement today, the Sussex-based firm said it was shocked by the "devastating" blaze, adding: 'Rydon completed a refurbishment of the building in the summer of 2016 for KCTMO (Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation) on behalf of the council, which met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards.

He added: 'That's when I noticed the fire from outside when I looked out the window.

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Residents, tired and still in their night clothes, began to emerge as further refuges were set up around the local area to help with the increasing flow of people.

Eye-witness reports say residents could be heard screaming for help, reports the BBC.

Some reports have suggested that the buildings rain- screen cladding, installed as part of a 10-million-pound refurbishment work previous year may have contributed to the speed with which the fire spread through the entire building.

"If spread of fire does occur, as has happened at Grenfell Tower, the consequences are often catastrophic". Murphy, who lives on the 14th floor, last spoke to the family between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Wednesday, Racz said. "I live in a tower block and this is devastating".

"We started giving him the liquids, I put pressure on his wound in his hip", Brooks said.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

The apartment block was built in 1974, but had recently undergone a major refurbishment, including a new heating and hot water system and new cladding on the outside.

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The residents association from the apartment tower had previously warned that it was a potential fire risk - they highlighted their concerns in a blog post a year ago - and there was palpable anger among survivors that more could have been done to prevent the fire. "Neighbours had been watching it all night, they said the cladding went up like a nightdress by a fire - it just went whoosh".

Michael Paramasivan, who was in his seventh floor flat with girlfriend Hannah West, 23, and her daughter Thea, five, said: "If we'd listened to them and stayed in the flat we'd have perished". The fire brigade department issued a statement saying the fire had spread from the second floor to the top floor of the building.

People who live nearby were evacuated, some carrying pets in their arms as they left.

"Now, honestly I don't know for certain if people jumped off the building to get away from the fire, but the main thing for me with this incident is the fact that the fire alarms didn't go off in the building".

A local community organization, the Grenfell Action Group, had warned about fire dangers at the building since 2013. In a series of blog posts, the group raised concerns about testing and maintenance of fire-fighting equipment and blocked emergency access to the site.

The fire broke out just after 1am (London time) and quickly tore through the multi-level block. We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations.

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