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London Grenfell fire was like war zone or an image of 9/11, says fireman

By PA Reporters

A firefighter has compared the scene of the Grenfell Tower blaze to a "war zone".

Hundreds of people were inside the tower block in the Kensington area of west London as the fire, which is thought to have started on the third or fourth floor soon after midnight, destroyed flat after flat.

People reportedly leapt from the tower as others, trapped inside, desperately tried to make ropes from sheets or used lights on their phones to signal for help from windows and the roof.

Witnesses have described seeing a baby caught by members of the public after being dropped from a window on the "ninth or 10th floor".

A resident of the 17th floor of the block, identified as Methrob, told LBC Radio: "By the time that we got downstairs, the fire had gone all the way up and it was just about reaching our windows on the 17th floor.

"The whole one side of the building was on fire. The cladding went up like a matchstick."

A firefighter who helped tackle the blaze described the scene as like a "war zone".

Terry, who spent eight hours working in the area, said he had "seen nothing like it" during his 27 years with the fire service.

He told LBC Radio: "We had to run underneath police riot shields because of the amount of flaming debris, just to get into the building.

"There was one small staircase that everyone was going up. It was just like the images of 9/11. We were going up the staircase and people were coming down in smoke. I don't know how they were breathing."

He told how he went up as far as the 10th floor and added: "The amount of kit that this job has absorbed from the London Fire Brigade is unbelievable. It's like a war zone here."

The firefighter, who worked in the aftermath of the IRA bomb at Canary Wharf in 1996, said no amount of planning could have prepared the emergency services to deal with such a fire.

Describing the carnage and desperation of people trapped in their flats, he added: "One of my colleagues was hit by someone who jumped out of a window.

"To see a whole 24-storey building go up in flames, how does that happen? How does that happen in a first-world country? How it happens in London in 2017 is anyone's guess."

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