The fire brigade were called to a blaze at 17-storey Salamanca Towers, Salamanca Place at 2:53am this morning and were still on the scene cleaning up and clearing hoses at 9am.
Six people were taken to St Thomas' hospital and one person to Kings College Hospital, suffering from smoke inhalation, but fortunately, there were no serious injuries. The police on the scene noted that whilst nobody was badly hurt, the 4th floor had suffered extensive fire damage, and the floors below would likely be damaged on account of the quantity of water required to extinguish the fire.
The BBC were alerted very promptly, due to a resident with links to the organisation, and their report notes that nine people were rescued from third and fourth floors by ladder, some from their balconies. Another ten were helped to safety via internal staircases.
There is a large fire station on Albert Embankment so response was extremely rapid, but the station needed to call for additional support. At one point, Albert Embankment and Black Prince Road were lined with fire and response vehicles as up to 75 fire fighters tackled the blaze.
One eye-witness awoke to a woman shouting "please help me", and assumed that an assault was taking place outside. When it was clear that the woman was stuck in her flat due to the fire, the resident tried to help the woman, but could not access her flat due to thick smoke. Other residents were then awoken as neighbours pounded on their doors, but not everybody knew of the fire or exited the building. A man on the 16th floor claimed to have slept entirely through the incident. Residents report that they did not hear fire alarms sound in their flats.
Fire fighters and the residents that escaped the building were offered hospitality by the nearby Park Plaza Hotel on Albert Embankment. At 9am, the residents still had not been allowed to re-enter the building, as the cleanup operation was still under way. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.