Death toll up to 17 in London high-rise fire

Smoke billows from from a high-rise apartment building on fire in London, Wednesday, June 14, 2017. A massive fire raced through the 24-story high-rise apartment building in west London early Wednesday, sending many people to hospitals, emergency officials said. (Rick Findler/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — London police say that the death toll in the apartment building fire has increased to 17 people and is likely to rise even further.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy says that there is no suggestion the blaze was terror-related. Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton says specialist dogs would start searching the 24-story building.

Meanwhile, 44 households were given emergency accommodation after the blaze ripped through the tower on Wednesday. The local council says families with young children, elderly residents and the vulnerable were given “immediate priority.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has visited the site of the high-rise blaze.

May didn’t speak with journalists during the visit. On Wednesday, she promised a “proper investigation” into the cause of the blaze.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip have paid tribute to London firefighters whose bravery prevented a greater loss of life in the high-rise fire.

The monarch and the Duke of Edinburgh also have hailed volunteers offering support to dozens of victims from the devastating blaze.

The queen says “Prince Philip and I would like to pay tribute to the bravery of firefighters and other emergency services officers who put their own lives at risk to save others.”

 

London’s fire commissioner says that firefighters have been traumatized by the devastation they witnessed during the high-rise apartment blaze.

Firefighters have extinguished the last of the flames at the 24-story and are now working to make the building safe so they can continue the search for more victims.

Entire families are missing, and the death toll is certain to rise. Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton told Sky would be a miracle if anyone were to be found alive.

Cotton says that firefighters are having trouble with the aftermath. She says “we like to think of ourselves as ‘roughty, toughty’ and heroes —they are heroes —but they have feelings, and people were absolutely devastated.”

Community centers in London have been overwhelmed by the number of donations flooding in for those left homeless by the fire.

So much food, clothing, shoes and other items have been coming in that the centers, churches and mosques have had to start turning away new donations.

Missing people posters have been put up throughout the north London neighborhood of North Kensington. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has offered free food for survivors at one of his nearby eateries.

 

More than 1 million pounds ($1.27 million) has been raised to help victims of the tragedy as volunteers and charities worked through the night to find shelter and food for people who lost their homes.

 

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