London Fire: Six Fatalities Reported in Huge Blaze That Engulfed 27-story Apartment Building

'We saw the people screaming,' neighbor says ■ Number of fatalities likely to rise ■ At least 67 taken to hospital ■ 20 in critical condition

 This handout image received by local resident Natalie Oxford early on June 14, 2017 shows flames and smoke coming from a 27-storey block of flats after a fire broke out in west London.
NATALIE OXFORD/AFP

Six people have died and at least 67 people have been injured following a massive fire in a 27-story tower block in west London on Wednesday morning.

London's ambulance service has reported that 20 of those being treated are in critical condition. London's Metropolitan Police have said that they expect the number of fatalities to rise as a complex and lengthy recovery process continues.

A fire chief confirmed the deaths and number of injured following the blaze that consumed the 1970s-built high-rise.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Twitter that a major incident had been declared and said questions would be needed to be answered regarding safety in the tower blocks.

>> London tower block residents say they warned authorities of fire risk many times <<

Flames and smoke were still shooting from the windows of the Grenfell Tower in North Kensington more than four hours after the blaze started around 1 A.M. London time. It was not clear if there were still residents trapped, but people at the scene spoke of not being able to reach friends and family who had been inside.

Nassima Boutrig, who lives opposite the building, said she was awakened by sirens and smoke so thick that it also filled her home.

"We saw the people screaming," she said. "A lot of people said 'Help, help, help!' The fire brigade could only help downstairs. It was fire up, up, up. They couldn't stop the fire."

Local residents watching as Grenfell Tower in west London is engulfed by fire, June 14, 2017
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP
A police officer helps to evacuate a local resident from close to the scene of a serious fire in a tower block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain June 14, 2017. REUTERS/Neil Hall
NEIL HALL/REUTERS

Boutrig said her friend's brother, wife and children lived in the building and that her friend was waiting to find out if they were OK.

The London Fire Brigade said 45 fire engines and 200 firefighters were called to the scene and Assistant Fire Commissioner Dan Daly said it was a large and very serious incident.

"Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus are working extremely hard in very difficult conditions to tackle this fire," he said in a post on the brigade's Facebook page.

Once the sun rose, smoke could be seen from miles away.

George Clarke, the presenter of "Amazing Spaces," told Radio 5 Live he was covered in ash even though he was 100 meters (328 feet) from the scene.

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. REUTERS/Toby Melville
TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
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. REUTERS/Toby Melville
TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS
An airplane is seen as 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. REUTERS/Toby Melville
TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS

He said he saw people waving flashlights from the top levels of the building and saw rescuers "doing an incredible job" trying to get people out.

Tim Downie, who lives not far away, told Britain's Press Association he feared the building could collapse. He said he heard sirens, helicopters and shouting, and then saw the building engulfed in flames.

"It's the most terrifying thing I've ever seen. I just hope they have got everyone out," he said. "People have been bringing water, clothes, anything they've got to help, out to the cordon."