Huge fire breaks out in London building

Many people have been killed after a massive fire broke out at an apartment block in London. 

The 24-storey Grenfell Tower building was engulfed in flames early on Wednesday morning (local time), forcing evacuations and a full-scale emergency response.

London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said it was an "unprecedented situation".

More than 200 people lived inside the building on the Lancaster West Estate in North Kensington, where the fire broke out at 1:15am Wednesday (local time).

The blaze reportedly started when a fridge on the fourth floor exploded, according to one of the survivors. The London Fire Brigade has been unable to confirm the report and says an investigation will be taking place.

It's left many people homeless and many more desperately searching for loved ones, but residents and businesses are opening their doors to evacuees displaced by the blaze.

A fire brigade spokesperson has confirmed "a number of fatalities", as firefighters continue to battle to extinguish the blaze. One hundred medics are working at the scene.

An emergency number has been set up for anyone concerned for missing friends and family, while those who were involved in the fire and are safe are urged to let emergency services know.

It's not yet known what caused the blaze and a fire brigade spokesperson said an investigation will be carried out.

Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy expects it'll take several days to recover all the bodies from the ravaged building, and says the death toll is likely to rise.

Newshub UK correspondent Tova O'Brien spoke to witnesses who helped pull unconscious babies from the fire.

"We saw a lot of casualties coming through, many young kids, many babies as well - all unconscious, obviously," one witness said.

Kensington and Chelsea Council leader Nick Paget-Brown told Sky News UK "several hundred people would have been in there".

An eyewitness told The Guardian that earlier people used their mobile lights to try and get the attention of fire crews.

"It has gone very quiet now, we heard a lot of sirens and screaming in the early hours, but now the building is pretty much all consumed."

There were intially fears the gutted building would collapse, but the London Fire Brigade later said it's not in danger of collapsing and it's safe for fire crews to be inside.

Police are evacuating streets surrounding the tower, with residents asked to gather their belongings and meet a church nearby.

The London Ambulance Service says over 20 ambulance crews attended the scene, and at least 50 patients have been taken to hospital.

One resident escaped from the 17th storey, and says the building went up "like a matchstick".

"We don't have an integrated fire alarm system. It's just everyone's house for themself."

During the fire, residents reportedly built ropes from sheets to try and escape the flames.

On a Facebook live stream, witnesses standing at the cordon could be heard shouting advice to a woman and baby trapped on the second floor.

"Fill up your bathtub and make sure you get some wet towels. Worst comes to worst, sit in the bathtub," one man could be heard yelling.

One Twitter user says for hours he could hear the fire brigade replying to people still trapped inside.

The cause of the blaze is not known, however residents had previously raised concerns about the safety of the building, it has emerged.

Hundreds of firefighters and 40 fire engines attended the scene. The London Fire Brigade say the inferno reached from the second storey to the top floor.

One local earlier told Radio 5 Live he was covered in ash, 100m away.

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

Another eyewitness told the BBC the building was "crumbling".

"It has burned through to its very core," he said.

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