LONDON: London mayor Sadiq Khan has said “questions need to be answered” after firefighters were unable to access the upper floors of a burning 24-storey tower block in west London where several people have died.
Desperate residents were seen throwing themselves and their children from windows at Grenfell Tower, near White City, after the blaze broke out overnight, witnesses said.
Around 250 firefighters tackled the inferno, but their ladders were unable to reach beyond the 19th and 20th floors of the residential block, London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton has confirmed.
One of the concerns that we have is it’s a 24-storey building but for obvious reasons, with the scale of the fire, our experts weren’t able to reach all the way to the top, so of course these are questions that need to be answered as soon as possible.
– London mayor Sadiq Khan
Cotton described the fire as “unprecedented”.
“In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale,” she told a press conference.
Mr Khan said: “Thankfully residents didn’t stay in their flats and fled to safety.”
Responding to questions at a later media conference, Mr Khan said he was sure the local authorities and private companies responsible for the management of the many tower blocks across London and the country would be keen to address concerns about safety.
“It’s important that people are reassured that these tower blocks are safe,” he said.
More than 50 people are in hospital and more than 100 medics are still responding to the incident, London Ambulance said.
The 1970s-built tower block recently underwent an £8.7 million refurbishment that included a modernised exterior, new windows and additional homes.
The company that completed the works said in a statement that its refurbishment met “all required building control, fire regulation and health & safety standards”.