Last night, a fire engulfed Grenfell Tower in Kensington, London. At least 12 people have died, but authorities say the figure is likely to rise, as 68 more remain in hospital.

It’s yet another tragedy that’s hit a city still-grieving from two terrorist attacks in three months. However, in times of crisis, London's people will always come together. Londoners from every corner of society have stepped up to fight the fire and support its victims.

Approximately 200 firefighters were deployed with 40 fire engines to take on the blaze that erupted after midnight last night. An official statement released by the Fire Brigades Union offered condolences to the victims, and praised those who worked “through the night to secure the building and to save as many lives as possible.”

People have paid their respects to the bravery of the responders, who risked their lives once more to tackle the fire. Firefighters evacuated the building, floor by floor, to save those trapped inside the building.

Several different faiths united to offer support. Places of worship opened their doors to displaced residents, as a variety of religious groups collected and distributed donations of food, water, and clothes. Indeed, some of the very first to react were Muslims who were just breaking their fast for Ramadan.

Others used social media to offer assistance in any way they could. Anything from a shower to a place to stay, the general public were quick to reach out. By the morning, some community centres had to turn away donations after an incredible surge of support.

Local businesses opened their doors, too. Phone company EE invited anybody needing to use a phone to visit any of their stores in the area, whilst others offered services to support the emergency response team. Even if it was just to offer a cup of tea, everybody pitched in to help. 

Eyewitness accounts have reported that a baby dropped from a window “on the ninth or 10th floor” was caught safely by somebody waiting on the ground. Another resident saw a woman throw her five-year-old son out of fifth floor window, who suffered broken bones.

At time of writing, a crowdfunding page setup to support victims has raised £26,532, beating its initial target by 663%. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has offered free food and drink at his local Italian restaurant in Westfield Shopping Centre. Singer Lily Allen offered food and shelter too, as multiple celebrities and politicians like TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson and Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy urged locals to donate supplies. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also issued a statement on the “horrific scenes."

It’s not known yet what may have caused the fire. But some reports have indicated that fire alarms were not heard by residents, and that tenants have been complaining about lax health and safety regulations since 2012. 

The disaster is unprecedented. But the reaction of local Londoners is not. Humanity and community will always prevail at the most challenging of moments. Our thoughts go out to every family affected in any way by the tragedy.

If you are concerned for lost loved ones, the Metropolitan Police have posted official advice to call the Casualty Bureau on 0800 0961 233.


Demand Equity

Brave Londoners Rush to Help After Tragic Fire in Tower Block

By James Hitchings-Hales