Churches in London's west have opened their doors to residents of an apartment tower which was completely engulfed in a fire early on Wednesday morning, leaving at least 12 dead and scores of injured.

The 24 storey Grenfell Tower on Latimer Road in north Kensington was completely engulfed by a fire which reportedly broke out just before 1am on Wednesday. The fire in the Seventies-era building, believed to have been home to hundreds of people, was battled by more than 200 firefighters and 40 engines. Fire crews were able to rescue 65 people from the building.

Police said that 12 people had been confirmed dead but the number was expected to rise. Scores of people were taken to nearby hospital for injuries and smoke inhalation. There were reports of people jumping from windows to escape the flames.

Dany Cotton, London Fire Commissioner, described the situation as "unprecedented". "In my 29 years with London Fire Brigade I have never seen a fire of this nature."

She said that the cause of the fire, which started on the lower levels and quickly spread upwards, was not yet known.

A nearby church, St Clements, was used as an evacuation centre while other churches, including the Latymer Community Church, were also aiding people affected by the blaze.

"After the devastating fire in Grenfell Tower we have been asked how people can best support us as a church and local residents affected," a statement on the Latymer church website said. "Please continue to pray for us as we respond to the needs of our community in the immediate aftermath of this tragedy and over the coming months."

Derek White, of the Latymer church, told Premier News that it was "really encouraging to see how the community is coming together". "There are people who have been up all night just helping and coming together as a community."

Local Sikhs and Muslims have also been praised for their response to those affected by the fire.