Several killed, more than 60 hurt in London fire

An unmanned crane drenches the smouldering shell of Grenfell Tower in London

As officials investigate the cause of a devastating blaze at a west London tower block that has killed at least six people, reports suggest a "faulty fridge" may have sparked the fire. Even then, a billowing cloud of smoke could be seen for miles. "In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never, ever seen anything of this scale".

Police earlier said they had been evacuating people from the building, and that a number of people were being treated for a wide range of injuries.

Prime Minister May said her thoughts were with all those affected by the fire.

The causes of the fire, one of the biggest in London in memory, were not immediately known.

Sikh resident Harjinder Kukreja wrote on Twitter, "Sikh Gurudwaras in London have started collecting and distributing spare clothes, toys, toiletries for Grenfell Tower evacuees".

"There was bits of building falling off all around me, I scalded my shin on a hot piece of metal that had fallen off the building", said Jodie Martin, who lives close to the building and sought to save people from the fire.

She added: 'I could see people from all angles, banging and screaming for help. Witnesses describe people screaming from windows for help as the halls filled with thick smoke, and some jumping to their death or dropping their children - safely into arms below, in at least one case, but not in others. It was fire up, up, up. Instead, they were alerted to the blaze by fellow residents, many of whom were Muslim people who were awake early in the morning to prepare their sehri. More than 20 ambulance crews were on the scene, along with 200 firefighters and 45 fire engines. "The smoke alarms weren't going off but the way it spread so quickly from the fourth floor, all the way up to the 23rd floor was scary", she said. "I could not find the stairs".

Others searched for information at makeshift evacuation centers set up at churches and recreation centers. "I sat there watching my house burn down and watching people cry for help who couldn't come down", she said. Hassad says she believes one of her friend's daughters is in the hospital, but didn't know which one.

"The potential for a fire to break out in the communal area on the walkway does not bear thinking about as residents would be trapped in the building with no way out", it said. Others are distributing water bottles to those waiting outside.

Helicopters hovered overhead. Exhausted firefighters sprawled on the pavement just inside the police cordon, drinking water from plastic bottles. Over 50 persons were hospitalised and efforts were ongoing at the scene to bring the blaze under control.

Fire-fighting crews still had to reach the top four floors of the building where several hundred people live in 130 apartments.

Actor and writer Tim Downie, who lives around 600 meters from the scene in Latimer Road, said he feared the block could collapse.

While many witnesses seemed sure the fire seemed to grow along the outside of the tower, it was not clear whether the building's facelift was related.

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