Disaster tourists are showing up at the site of last week's horrific tower fire in London, says a Kiwi expat who lives nearby.

Fire engulfed West London's Grenfell tower early on Wednesday morning. Police say 58 people were missing presumed dead, including 30 confirmed dead.

The Bay of Plenty Times spoke to London residents Rachael Kuka from Tauranga and Claudia Todd from Christchurch about the fire.

Todd lives close to the tower. She and her partner woke early on Wednesday morning to the sound of sirens on the street below their two-storey attached flat.


At first they assumed there had been a murder. Then came the screaming.

"I saw a woman running down the street, screaming - my first thought was shit, is this another terrorist attack?" she said.

The couple went downstairs and immediately saw the fire.

"Even from where we were standing we could feel the heat of the fire, the air was dense with smoke.

"I felt really, really sad. You instantly thought of the people who lived there and how scared they must have been," Todd said.

When Kuka, who used to live in West London, got into work at 7.30am on Wednesday, the fire had been burning for more than six hours and people were still trapped.

Fire engulfed West London's Grenfell tower early on Wednesday morning. Photo / AP
Fire engulfed West London's Grenfell tower early on Wednesday morning. Photo / AP

"I got shivers and felt quite ill and sick to my stomach, thinking about the helpless people who were trapped with no way out," Kuka said.

Days after the fire, Todd said her neighbourhood was still "like a circus".

"I had to show proof of address for the first few days so I could come and go.

"There are still a lot of media around the area. There are also a lot of disaster tourists just coming to look at the building.

"For a long time it's going to be a constant reminder of what happened that night and the lives that were lost."

Both women said there was a lot of anger in London in the fire's wake.

While the community had come together to help each other out, people were also calling for change and major investigations.

"They have to do something to make people feel safe," Todd said.

Kuka's visa expires mid-next year. She said she was tossing up whether to apply for a sponsorship visa or move back to New Zealand, which felt safer.

"It honestly feels like one thing after another. I try to remain alert when I travel, and have opted to take buses over the tube and walking."

Todd said she loved London and would find it hard to leave.

"I think you have to look at the big picture, these things actually happen all around the world all the time.

"I think London will be okay, we will get through it."

The London tower fire may prompt a review of local building and fire safety legislation.

Tauranga City Council's environmental services general manager Rebecca Perrett said legislation reviews were typical after a major tragedy.

"After the Christchurch earthquake, an investigation was required into all buildings similar to the CTV building, so it is possible an investigation and changes could come as a result of this tragedy.

"Tauranga City Council will respond to any legislative requirement or investigation that arises."

Deadly London fire

- The fire started overnight June 14-15
- It burned for around 24 hours
- Up to 600 people were in the 120 flats at the time
- 58 people are missing presumed dead
- More than 70 were taken to hospital