A woman has been rescued by firefighters after being trapped in today’s high-rise blaze in Tower Hamlets.

Twenty fire engines and around 125 firefighters were called to a fire at a block of flats and offices on Whitechapel High Street just before 4pm this afternoon.

Crews tackled the scene on the 17th floor of a 21-storey building, also affecting balconies on the 17th, 18th and 19th floors.

News Shopper: Smoke billows from the fire in Whitechapel High Street today. Picture: PASmoke billows from the fire in Whitechapel High Street today. Picture: PA

Station Commander Chris Jenner, who was at the scene, said: “This was a dynamic and visible fire with our 999 Control Officers taking more than 50 calls in the early stages.”

Around 60 people evacuated the building with others remaining in their unaffected flats.

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Mr Jenner described a rescue situation where one woman was “trapped by the nature of the fire” on the 17th floor.

He said: “She was given fire survival advice by control officers until firefighters located her. Fire crews used a fire escape hood to help lead the woman to safety via the internal staircase.”

Fire escape hoods provide members of the public with up to 15 minutes of protection from four of the main harmful gases given out in a fire - carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen chloride and acrolein.

The hoods can be worn by conscious or unconscious people and if more than 15 minutes of protection is required then another hood can be given to each wearer.

They do not provide oxygen but temporarily filter toxic smoke to make breathing easier.

Fire crews from Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Dowgate, Bethnal Green, Dockhead, Old Kent Road, Islington and surrounding fire stations were at the scene.

Mr Jenner said: “We mobilised a 64-metre turntable ladder to the scene. This is the tallest firefighting ladder in Europe and allowed us to get water onto the fire from outside the building.

“The professionalism, hard work and quick actions of control officers and firefighters limited the damage to the block and prevented serious injuries.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.