'Raging' fire at West Hampstead flats put out by almost 60 firefighters

An "apocalyptic" fire which sparked panic as it ripped through a block of flats has been put out.

Eight fire engines and 58 firefighters were sent to the blaze on Heritage Lane, West Hampstead, in north-west London, on Tuesday morning.

There are not believed to have been any casualties in the incident in which three balconies were alight, and the cause is unknown.

Building developer Ballymore said there was nobody in the affected Orwell block of flats when the fire took place, adding that temporary accommodation will be organised for those that need it.

The seven-floor building was completed in March 2017, a company spokeswoman said.

Max Truman and Nicolas Jacobson, both 29, live in the building where the fire broke out.

Fire in West Hampstead
Fire in West Hampstead

Mr Truman said: "I saw smoke coming out from the balcony but I didn't think anything of it.

"It carried on and I saw the smoke get thicker - I walked outside to the balcony and could see thick smoke coming out. There was no fire alarm going on at this point.

"We opened the door and thought we need to get out. We ran downstairs from the top floor and got down and there was a blazing fire outside.

"Within 10 minutes it had gone up (the side of the building). It was lucky we were up because there was no fire alarm.

"All of a sudden everyone was rushing out of their doors - it was panic, panic, panic, we rushed down the stairs and the fire was going up. It was going up the balconies quite quickly."

Kirsten Levermore, 24, lives down the road from where the fire took place, and was on her way to work when she saw the blaze, which she described as "apocalyptic".

"It looked like a bomb had hit it. Everything was on fire," she said.

Raging #fire in #WestHampsteadhttps://t.co/wNkVU2Ic0b

-- Kirsten Levermore (@k_leevers) July 3, 2018

Ms Levermore said it was a "pretty scary" way to start the day, adding: "It just caught, and it was an absolute wall of fire."

She posted a video on Twitter showing flames and thick black smoke coming from the building.

She said: "Someone had been in the building next door. They worked in that building, and they had been evacuated.

"They said that they had opened the door and just seen red and run for it."

She added: "It was quite something. It was raging."

Ballymore said: "We can confirm that the fire which broke out this morning has now been put out and there have been no reported injuries.

"The safety and security of residents is our utmost priority and we are in close communication with all affected residents.

"Our primary task in the coming hours is to ensure their security and to organise temporary accommodation.

"We are working closely with emergency services to find the cause of the fire."

London Ambulance Service were at the scene but said they have not treated any patients.

London Fire Brigade was called at 11.25am and fire crews from West Hampstead, Paddington, Willesden and surrounding fire stations attended the incident.

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