A serious fire in West London

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Flames and smoke billow as firefighters deal with a serious fire in the Grenfell tower apartment block at Latimer Road in West London, Britain. Reuters/Toby Melville

Toby Melville: "The phone rang a around 3.30 in the morning. "What's happened," I said, on autopilot as I emerged from deep sleep.

My picture editor, Dylan, only calls at that time of night for breaking news. 'It's not terror,' said Dylan. I felt a sense of relief. He said a tower block in West London was on fire.

I dressed, picked up my cameras, laptops and phones and jumped into the car. It was still dark at 4 a.m. when I got to the scene. I could see a tower block ablaze. I was shocked. There must be scores of people trapped inside and the fire had started at 1 a.m., the worst possible time with so many residents at home and asleep.

I felt the clock ticking as I searched for a parking spot close enough to get there on foot. Dylan edited my first frames shot, via transmission directly from camera, from his home. They weren't the best images but it was key to move them on the news wire as I was first on the scene for Reuters.

As I got closer, I thought about accessing the neighbouring tower blocks that were yet to be cordoned off. I couldn't help thinking that if the structure had been ablaze for some three hours the building would collapse in smoke and rubble. It would be unwise to get too close.

So I walked onto the Westway, a raised highway that runs a couple of hundred metres from Grenfell tower. It was closed to traffic and eerily quiet bar the crackling of little explosions coming from the building and the muted noise of sirens. Ash was falling around me onto the road.

This picture has a church in the background. I shot wide frames of the building on what would otherwise have been a beautiful summer dawn."



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