A 24-story residential tower in West London was being evacuated early Wednesday as enormous flames engulfed the building, police said.
Police, fire and ambulance crews raced to Grenfell Tower, part of the Lancaster West housing estate about a mile northwest of Kensington Palace. The London Fire Brigade said it had sent 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters to battle the inferno.
London Metropolitan Police said their preliminary information was that two people were being treated for smoke inhalation but that further injuries were possible in the fire, which was reported at 1:16 a.m. Wednesday local time (8:16 p.m. ET Tuesday).
“We wake up early sometimes anyway in the night, and one of my relatives saw the flames from the window and heard the people screaming,” Ousama Itani, who lives in the area, told NBC News.
“It just started to burn across from one side to the other, and we saw apartment after apartment getting lit up into flames,” Itani said.
Scores of passersby posted video of the giant blaze on social media, many of them also saying they could hear residents screaming for help from their windows. The BBC’s London radio service said the fire could be seen from vantage points across the city.
Police said the 120-unit tower was being evacuated. Cordons were erected to seal off the scene, and people were urged to avoid the area.
Grenfell Tower was recently totally refurbished, according to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the local governing authority.