Burning London building mainly occupied by Muslim families

Finance Minister Philip Hammond told the BBC that the cladding used had been banned in the UK

A fire has broken out in a tower block in west London with fears that people are trapped in their homes.

The fire in the 24-storey Grenfell Tower on Latimer Road near Notting Hill started in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

At least 200 firefighters and 40 engines on the scene of a huge fire at Grenfell Tower in Latimer Road, near Notting Hill, in West LondonFull story on Grenfell Tower fire.

Video – Fire rips through London apartment building, residents trapped

Residents who escaped have told reporters that as many homes are occupied by Muslims families observing Ramadan they were awake and able to react quickly to warnings.

However, they have received calls from friends and family who are trapped inside.

The London Fire Brigade said on Twitter they were responding to a fire on the Lancaster West Estate after multiple calls. Two hundred fire fighters were at the scene along with forty engines that were called at just after 12.50am.

In a statement on Facebook, assistant commissioner Dan Daly said: “Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire.

This is a large and very serious incident and we have deployed numerous resources and specialist appliances.”

The statement said the fire reached from the second storey of the building to the top and the cause of the fire was not known. The London Ambulance Service said it had sent “a number of resources” to the area.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said it was a “major incident”.

Just before 4am the Metropolitan police said people were being treated for a range of injuries and evacuations were continuing.

Photographs and video from the scene showed huge flames engulfing most of the block, with lights on in many windows. The tower contains 120 homes.

View image on Twitter

Witnesses described hearing shouts for help coming from people inside the tower and walls of the building creaking.

Fabio Bebber tweeted from the scene that the fire had taken over most of the block.

The Metropolitan Police said two people were being treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and cordons were in place. Residents in neighbouring streets were being evacuated and roads in the area, including the Westway, were closed.

Celeste Thomas said there were hundreds of people outside the building with residents and families trying to find each other.

One local resident and witness, Victoria Goldsmith, told Sky news: “The whole building seems to be engulfed now. It’s spread all the way to the top.”

“There were literally two people trapped at the top and they had mobile phones and they had the lights trying to flash them and signal people … They couldn’t get to them … fire kept going and the lights went out.”

“They are trying to get it under control. Its pretty horrendous.”

George Clarke, the presenter of Amazing Spaces, lives nearby. He told Radio 5 Live: “I was in bed and heard ‘beep, beep, beep’ and thought, ‘I’ll get up and run downstairs as quickly as I could’.

“I thought it might be a car alarm outside and saw the glow through the windows.

“I’m getting covered in ash, that’s how bad it is. I’m 100 metres away and I’m absolutely covered in ash.

“It’s so heartbreaking, I’ve seen someone flashing their torches at the top level and they obviously can’t get out.

“The guys are doing an incredible job to try and get people out that building, but it’s truly awful.”

View image on Twitter

Tim Downie, who lives 600m from the building, told Sky News that by almost 4am the building was mostly “burned out”.

“It’s gone. It’s just a matter of time before this building collapses,” he said.

“I just hope they have got everyone out.”

“People have been bringing water, clothes, anything they’ve got to help, out to the cordon,” he said.

“I have seen people coming out in their bedclothes – it’s just very distressing.”

The tower block was built in the 1970s as part of the Lancaster West Estate project. – Guardian

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