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LONDON (CBSMiami) — A search and rescue operation is underway in Britain as hundreds of firefighters battle a deadly fire that engulfed a West London high-rise overnight.

“This is an unprecedented incident,” said London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton.

The massive fire at the Grenfell Tower apartment building broke shortly before 1 a.m. and quickly spread from floor to floor.

“It was horrific. I saw families screaming, people looking like they wanted to jump out,” said 18-year-old Yousef Serroukh who lives in the building.

David Benjamin said smoke trapped his neighbors inside.

“I’m not sure if half of them got out to be honest with you, there were kids out the window, there were people flashing their phone lights just for help,” said Benjamin.

Cotton said firefighters arrived on the scene within six minutes but weren’t able to save some of those who couldn’t get out.

Six fatalities were initially confirmed, with nearly 50 others are being treated at five hospitals in the area. Hours later, officials raised the death toll to 12.

Many of the roads around the burning tower have been blocked off. People living in other buildings nearby are also being evacuated for safety.

“The police have said at this stage they are concerned the building could collapse,” said Joanna O’Conner who lives in the area.

The Grenfell Tower had recently undergone a multi-million dollar facelift with many of the 120 apartments outfitted with new windows. It’s unclear if the fixes played a role in igniting the fire.


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