International News

The Latest: Management says too early to say cause of fire

Firefighters spray water onto the 24-storey apartment block in west London. Wednesday June 14, 2017. Firefighters are searching the charred 24-storey apartment tower in London after a deadly overnight fire raced through it. Police say there were fatalities with more than 70 othersinjured in the blaze that sent black smoke over the British capital. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on the London fire (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

The manager of the 24-story, 120-unit public housing complex devastated by fire in west London says it is too early to speculate what caused the inferno and what contributed to its spread.

The Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization says it will cooperate fully “with all the relevant authorities in order to ascertain the cause of this tragedy,” in which at least 12 people died.

The organization has spent 10 million pounds ($12.8 million) refurbishing the building over the past two years. The project included installation of insulated exterior cladding, double-glazed windows and a communal heating system.

The organization said: “We are aware that concerns have been raised historically by residents. We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations. While these investigations continue with our cooperation, our core priority at the moment is our residents.

The company was formed in 2006 as part a drive to let tenants manage their own homes. It manages 9,400 units under an agreement with the local council.


5:50 p.m.

Britain’s government has ordered checks at tower blocks that have had or are going through similar refurbishments to the high-rise apartment building gutted by a huge fire Wednesday, amid concerns that building renovations may have contributed to the spread of the blaze.

Policing and Fire Minister Nick Hurd said Wednesday the government wanted to reassure people living in other apartment buildings.

Hurd says authorities will “seek to identify towers that might have a similar process of refurbishment, run a system of checks so that we can, as quickly as possible, give reassurance to people.”

Grenfell Tower in west London had its exteriors modernized in 2016, including the installation of exterior cladding.


5 p.m.

Police say the death toll in the London tower blaze has risen to 12, and that the figure was expected to rise.

Steve Apter of the London Fire Brigade said pockets of fire were still blazing at west London’s Grenfell Tower, a high-rise apartment block, more than 16 hours after first reports of fire early Wednesday. He said crews have rescued 65 people from the building, and that firefighters have searched most of the tower and reached the top floor. Police commander Stuart Cundy said Wednesday he did not anticipate further survivors.

Police declined to say how many people were missing.


4:45 p.m.

Fears are growing for people who are unaccounted for after a huge fire raced through an apartment block in West London and left at least six dead.

Between 400 and 600 people are said to live in the building, which houses 120 apartments and was still burning some 14 hours after the blaze broke out in the early hours of Wednesday. It is unclear how many people were inside the building at the time and how many were able to escape. Authorities asked residents who had escaped to contact a help line so that they could be accounted for.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy says he anticipated “that there may be people within that building that are as yet unaccounted for.”


3:30 p.m.

While details are still scant about the victims in the London apartment building fire, some witnesses report seeing children being dropped out of windows in efforts to save their lives.

Joe Walsh, 58, said he saw someone throw two children from a window at the fifth or sixth floor. “I don’t know where they landed because I was on the other side,” he said.

Student Tiago Etienne, 17, said he spotted about three young children being dropped from an apartment higher up.

Earlier, witness Samira Lamrani said she saw one woman dropping a baby from a window, and that a man ran forward and managed to grab the baby.

Police say at least six people died in Wednesday’s blaze. Firefighters are still searching the scene.


2:50 p.m.

The former deputy chief fire officer for U.S. Air Force bases in Britain says he has never seen a fire in an apartment block spread at such speed.

Joe Ruane, who now works as a consultant, says it appeared likely that several fire protection safeguards at Grenfell Tower in west London failed.

He says: “It’s not just one thing. It’s multiple issues.”

He said firefighters arriving at the scene about six minutes after the first call found the building engulfed, hampering their ability to attack the blaze.

Ruane says, “I’ve never seen a fire like that in my life.”

Authorities have declined to speculate about how the fire started and how it spread so rapidly to engulf the whole building.


2 p.m.

A spokesman at the organization that manages the west London apartment block that went up in flames overnight has declined to comment on prior complaints about fire safety at the building.

Pete Griffiths, a spokesman for the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization, told The Associated Press: “I can’t comment. We’re getting hundreds of requests for comments.”

The group issued a statement saying it was currently focused on helping residents.

A local community group says it has repeatedly warned about poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower, where a massive blaze claimed the lives of at least six people.


1:15 p.m.

The London Fire Commissioner says several firefighters have sustained minor injuries in the fire at a west London apartment building, as fire crews continue searching the tower block for victims.

Dany Cotton told reporters Wednesday at midday that firefighters were still in the building, as authorities appealed for families to report anyone who was accounted for.

The scale of the inferno means it could be days before it is clear how many victims were claimed by the blaze.

Cotton said she did not want to speculate about the cause of the fire or how it spread so rapidly to engulf the whole tower block.


1 p.m.

The construction firm that recently refurbished the west London tower that was engulfed in a deadly blaze says its work “met all required building control, fire regulation, and health and safety standards.”

Rydon completed a refurbishment project in 2016 on behalf of the local authority to modernize the exterior of Grenfell Tower, which saw new cladding and windows installed.

The company said it would not be commenting further “given the ongoing nature of the incident and the tragic events overnight”.


12:25 p.m.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s office says the leader is “deeply saddened” by the devastating fire that engulfed a high-rise apartment block in west London.

May’s office at Downing Street says in a statement that the leader is “deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life in the Grenfell Tower and is being kept constantly updated on the situation.”

In Germany, a spokeswoman for Angela Merkel says the chancellor received the news “with great sadness.”

Police say six people have died in the blaze that broke out at the 24-story tower block around midnight Wednesday and the fatality figure is expected to rise.


12:10 p.m.

London’s Ambulance Service says 74 people are being treated following a massive apartment blaze in west London.

Paul Woodrow, the head of operations, says that 20 of those patients are in critical condition. He said that the patients were being treated for a range of injuries and smoke inhalation.

Police said that six people have died in the blaze, which broke out after midnight Wednesday at Grenfell Tower, an apartment block housing 120 homes.


11:20 a.m.

London’s Metropolitan Police say six people have died in the devastating fire that engulfed a west London apartment block. Police say the number is expected to rise.

Police commander Stuart Cundy says he 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.”

Cundy says many others are receiving medical care.

Some 50 people are being treated in hospitals after a massive fire set a 24-story apartment block in west London ablaze overnight.


11:10 a.m.

London’s Fire Brigade says that a structural engineer and urban search and rescue crews have assessed the stability of the burning tower block in west London and believe it is not in danger of collapsing.

The brigade says “it is safe for our crews to be in there.” It added the cause of the massive fire is not known at this stage.

The 24-story apartment block was still engulfed in thick black smoke Wednesday morning some 10 hours after a fire first broke out. An unknown number of people have died and about 50 others were sent to hospitals.


11 a.m.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan says questions need to be answered about tower blocks around the city following a devastating fire.

Khan had been called to respond after reports that people had been advised in advance to remain in their flats in the event of fire.

Khan says in a statement “there will be a great many questions over the coming days as to the cause of this tragedy and I want to reassure Londoners that we will get all the answers.”

A blaze at a 24-story apartment block broke out around midnight, and parts of the building were still ablaze some nine hours later on Wednesday morning. Some 50 people were injured and several died.


10:30 a.m.

A witness says she saw a member of the public catch a baby that was dropped from the burning tower block in west London.

Samira Lamrani told Britain’s Press Association she saw a woman try to save the baby by dropping it from a window “on the ninth or 10th floor.”

She says “people were starting to appear at the windows, frantically banging and screaming. The windows were slightly ajar, 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.”

A blaze broke out in the early hours in the tower block. Some 50 people were injured, and authorities say people have died but it is unclear how many.


9 a.m.

A survivor of the massive high-rise apartment fire in London says he’s lucky to be alive.

Edward Daffarn says he was on the 16th floor and heard a neighbor’s smoke alarm go off and another neighbor called and told him to get out. He says there was heavy smoke in the hallway and he couldn’t find the stairs.

He says tenants have been complaining for years about issues at the building.

The Grenfell Action Group, a community organization formed to oppose a nearby redevelopment project, has been warning about the risk of fire there since 2013. The group says on its blog that it has raised concerns about testing and maintenance of firefighting equipment and blocked emergency access to the site.


8:30 a.m.

London Ambulance Service says 50 people have been taken to five hospitals following a major fire in a high-rise residential building.

The service says a major incident has been declared in the west London after a fire broke out in the early hours of the morning. The building was engulfed quickly, and London’s fire commissioner says there have been “a number” of fatalities.

Stuart Crichton, the Ambulance Service’s assistant director of operations, says 100 medics are on the scene, together with ambulance crews and advanced trauma teams.


7:50 a.m.

London’s fire commissioner says there have been a number of fatalities in a high-rise fire in west London.

Commissioner Dany Cotton calls the fire an “unprecedented incident” and says she has never seen anything on this scale in her 29-year career. She says firefighters are still working and she can’t say how many people may have died. At least 30 people have been taken to hospitals.

Fire raced through the 24-floor Grenfell Tower in North Kensington around 1 a.m.


7:30 a.m.

Police have turned a church near the scene of a massive west London high-rise fire into a makeshift center for evacuees.

A woman showed up in tears looking for her sister, who lived in the 24-story building that caught fire. Officials did not have any information to give her. They say 30 people have been taken to hospitals but it’s not clear if people are still trapped.

Many people at St. Clement’s church are in wheelchairs and have been brought from adjacent buildings that were evacuated by firefighters because of fears the fire might spread.

Hugo Zarey, who lives in one of the other buildings, says he could hear the commotion outside when police pounded on his door and ordered him to leave.

He says it was frightening but people are being cared for well.


6:35 a.m.

The London Ambulance service says 30 people have been taken to five hospitals after a massive fire at a high-rise apartment building in west London.

Ambulance officials say crews remain on scene as firefighters continue to battle the blaze in the 24-story building. It is not clear if people are trapped inside. Hours after the fire broke out, a plume of smoke can be seen from miles away.

The fire started around 1 a.m. London time and spread quickly through the building. More than 20 ambulance crews were on the scene, along with 200 firefighters and 45 fire engines.


4:30 a.m.

London ambulance services are responding to a major fire burned in west London.

The London Ambulance Service said it has sent 20 ambulance crews to respond to a London apartment building fire Wednesday morning. Metropolitan Police said earlier that two people were being treated for smoke inhalation. An updated figure was not available.

The fire involved nearly every floor of the 24-story building.


This story has been corrected by removing reference to 15 being treated for smoke inhalation, which was information from an older incident.


4 a.m.

Metropolitan Police in London say they’re continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London.

The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 24th floor of the building.

The cause of the fire is not yet known. It’s also not clear whether people are trapped.

Assistant Commissioner Dan Daly says on the London Fire Brigade’s Facebook page that it’s a large and very serious fire.

He says firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle the fire.

Forty fire engines and 200 firefighters and officers have been called to the scene.


2 a.m.

Firefighters were battling a massive fire in a London apartment high-rise early Monday morning. One side of the building appeared to be in flames, and 45 fire engines and 200 firefighters were called to the scene.

The London Fire Brigade tweeted that the fire involved the second to the top floor of the 24-story building.

The building is the Grenfell Tower in the North Kensington area.

The Metropolitan Police said two people were being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and cordons were in place.

George Clarke, the presenter of “Amazing Spaces,” told Radio 5 Live he was covered in ash even though he was 100 meters (yards) from the scene.

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