Massive fire in west London high-rise

A deadly nighttime fire raced through a 24-story apartment tower in London early Wednesday, June 14, killing at least 17 people and injuring dozens more. Some desperate residents threw their children from high windows, hoping someone on the ground would catch them.

Police commander Stuart Cundy said there were six confirmed fatalities, adding that the figure was likely to rise “during what will be a complex recovery operation over a number of days.”

People in the apartments cornered by the quickly advancing flames and thick smoke banged on windows and screamed for help to those watching down below, witnesses and survivors said.

Flames from the inferno lit up the night, and smoke spewed from the windows of the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, where more than 200 firefighters battled the blaze and went into the building with breathing apparatus. After dawn revealed the blackened, flame-licked wreckage of the building, a plume of black smoke stretched for miles across the pale sky.

“This is an unprecedented incident,” Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told reporters on the scene. “In my 29 years of being a firefighter I have never, ever seen anything of this scale.”

The London Fire Brigade received the first reports of the fire at 12:54 a.m., and the first engines arrived within six minutes, she said. Flames could still be seen more than 10 hours later.

There was no immediate word on the cause, but angry residents said they had repeatedly warned about a potential fire threat. One resident said the fire alarm did not go off. (AP)

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Massive fire in west London high-rise

Flames come out of windows at the Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey apartment block in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 14, 2017. (Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Local resident Amanda Fernandez reacts following a huge fire at the Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey apartment block in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 14, 2017. (Andy Rain/EPA)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

A view on the burning Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey apartment block in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 14, 2017. (Andy Rain/EPA)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Police from the Tactical Support Group at the scene of a huge fire at the Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey apartment block in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 14, 2017. (Andy Rain/EPA)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Smoke rises from the fire at the Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey apartment block in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 14, 2017. (Will Oliver/EPA)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Firefighters attend the burnt out remains of Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey apartment block in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 14, 2017. (Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Firefighters at the scene of the blaze on Wednesday. (Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

A view on the burningd Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey apartment block in North Kensington, London, Britain, June 14, 2017. According to the London Fire Brigade (LFB), 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters are working to put out the blaze. Residents in the tower were evacuated, a number of people were treated for a ‘range of injuries,’ and six people have died in a fire, Metropolitan Police said. The blaze broke out at around 1:00 am GMT. (Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they’re continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Smoke billows as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

A person peers out of a window from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they’re continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building. (Matt Dunham/AP)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Smoke rises from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they’re continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building. (Matt Dunham/AP)

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Massive fire in west London high-rise

Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Firefighters wait to start their shift after a massive fire raged in a 27-floor high-rise apartment building in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.(Matt Dunham/AP)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Smoke rises from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (Matt Dunham/AP)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (Matt Dunham/AP)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017.(Matt Dunham/AP)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

A man stands amid debris after a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

A helicopter is seen as flames and smoke billow while firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

People look on as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

A person, bottom right, peers out of a window from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. (Matt Dunham/AP)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

A helicopter is seen as smoke billows from a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

In this image made from video provided by Celeste Thomas @MAMAPIE, a building is on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Firefighters are battling a massive fire in an apartment high-rise in London. One side of the building appeared to be in flames. (Celeste Thomas @MAMAPIE via AP)

Massive fire in west London high-rise

Smoke and flames rise from a building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Metropolitan Police in London say they’re continuing to evacuate people from a massive apartment fire in west London. The fire has been burning for more than three hours and stretches from the second to the 27th floor of the building. (Matt Dunham/AP)