London apartment fire: Residents flee blaze in terror

Warning: This article contains content which may disturb some people.

When a fire engulfed an apartment building in London early on Wednesday morning (local time), many of its residents were fast asleep.

The blaze quickly spread from the second floor all the way up to the top floor - 24 storeys - just after 1am.

At that time, most of its residents were fast asleep. Those who did woke up and escape later said no one told them to evacuate.

Ruks Maudu was in the building at the time of the fire with her grandson. She said she woke up early to go to the bathroom when she heard something strange outside.

"I peeked [out of the window] and I saw a lot of fire engines, policemen everywhere. So I stretched and I said to one of them: 'Officer, what is going on?'. He said, 'Fire, get out'," she said.

"Nobody knocked on my door, I woke [up] to pee. Then I quickly woke [up] my grandson, give him his dressing gown, then we ran downstairs and that's where we are right now."

One man had four family members inside at the time, who all got out safely.

"Before that we saw a lot of casualties coming through, many young kids, many babies as well - all unconscious obviously," he told Newshub.

A number of people have been killed in the blaze. Emergency services haven't been able to confirm exactly how many as yet.

Ms Maudu said the stairwells were filled with smoke when they managed to escape, and others higher up in the building would have struggled to get out.

Some weren't as lucky as Ms Maudu.

Video from outside the building shows the panic and frenzy of witnesses standing at the cordon. Many shouted advice to those trapped.

"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 to a woman and her baby trapped on the second floor.

Concerns had previously been raised about the fire risk of the building.

Residents group Grenfell Action Group had complained about "very poor fire safety standards" by the landlords in the past. Now it says its warnings "fell on deaf ears".

"We predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time," it said.

Residents were reportedly advised to stay in their flats unless told otherwise in event of a fire, due to "rigorous fire safety standards".

"Also, the new front doors for each flat can withstand a fire for up to 30 minutes, which gives plenty of time for the fire brigade to arrive," residents were told in a newsletter in 2014, according to The Guardian.