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The London Fire Brigade (LFB) said that 20 fire engines were deployed to the scene on Whitechapel High Street in Aldgate.
The fire broke out on the 17th floor of a block of flats, LFB said. Glass panels that were on the building dropped hundreds of metres to the ground. As a result of the fire and subsequent risk to the public there were multiple road closures in place, including Whitechapel High Street between Commercial Road and Old Castle Street, and Commercial Road itself.
A LFB spokesperson said: “Crews are tackling a fire on the 17th floor of the building. The Brigade’s 64m ladder has been mobilised to the incident.
“The Brigade was called at 15:53. Fire crews from Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Dowgate, Bethnal Green, Dockhead, Old Kent Road, Islington and surrounding fire stations are at the scene. “The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.”
In an update shortly before 6pm, the LFB said their crews were still tackling the fire.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said “more than 125 firefighters are working hard to tackle a fire at a block of flats and offices on Whitechapel High Street”, adding that he was in close contact with the capital’s fire commissioner, Andy Roe.
People have been advised to avoid the area and those living or working locally are being told to keep their windows closed and stay indoors while firefighters tackle the blaze.
Paramedics were called to the scene just after 4pm.
A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We sent an ambulance crew, an incident response officer, a team leader in a fast response car and members of our hazardous area response team.
The Metropolitan Police stated that the building was being evacuated.