Home' Greymouth Star : June 15th 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
Thursday, June 15, 2017 - 5
Screams haunt witnesses
A blaze engulfed a 24-storey
housing block in central London,
trapping residents as they slept
and killing at least 12 people in
an inferno the fire brigade said
was unprecedented in its scale
A resident of the London tower
block that went up in flames,
killing at least 12 people, says the
blaze was started by an exploding
fridge and the building was a
disaster waiting to happen.
Aalya Moses, 57, said the fire
began when the fridge belonging
to the neighbour in the next flat
on the fourth floor developed a
She said he
frantically” on everyone’s doors
telling her there was a fire and
to escape. She said the cladding
retrofitted on the council housing
block was a fire risk that could
have been prevented as residents
had warned the council the new
exterior was a fire hazard.
“The outside in my opinion was
flammable material, that ’s why it
went up so quickly,” she said.
She said the council had “death
on its hands”. “I feel sick as a dog,
I’m still in shock,” she said.
More than 200 firefighters,
backed up by 40 fire engines,
fought for hours to try to control
the blaze, London’s deadliest for
a generation. The Grenfell Tower
apartment block was home to
about 600 people.
A local residents’ group said it
had predicted such a catastrophe
on their low-rent housing estate
that overlooks affluent parts
of the Kensington area of the
capital, and London Mayor
Sadiq Khan said there were
questions to answer.
Prime Minister Theresa May
promised there would be a proper
investigation into the disaster,
which delayed her talks on trying
to secure a parliamentary deal to
stay in power and launch talks on
Britain’s exit from the European
Some residents screamed for
help from behind upper-floor
windows and others tried to
throw children to safety as flames
raced through the Grenfell block
of about 120 apartments just
before 1am local time.
Firefighters said they rescued
65 people — some in pyjamas —
from the 43-year-old block.
“ We could see a lot of children
and parents screaming ‘Help!
Help! Help!’ and putting their
hands on the window and asking
to help them,” Amina Sharif said.
“ We could do nothing and we
could see the stuff on the side
was falling off, collapsing. We
were just standing screaming and
they were screaming. ”
Lleshi, saw people tying together
sheets to try to escape.
“I saw three people putting
sheets together to climb down,
but no one climbed down. I don’t
know what happened to them.
Even when the lights went off,
people were waving with white
shirts to be seen,” Lleshi said.
The fire sent up plumes of
smoke that could be seen from
miles away. The ambulance
ser vice said 68 people were being
treated in hospital, with 18 in
More than 16 hours after the
fire started, crews were still trying
to douse flames as they sought to
reach the top floors.
London police commander
Stuart Cundy told reporters he
did not believe further sur vivors
would be found in the building.
At a nearby community centre
used to house some of those
rescued, tensions were rising as
occupants waited for news.
unprecedented in its scale and
speed, will be subject to a full fire
investigation,” Steve Apter, from
the London Fire Brigade, said.
“Any lessons learned from this
will be borne out not just across
London, across the UK — and
lessons learned globally.”
Emergency ser vices said it was
too early to say what had caused
the inferno, which left the block
a charred, smoking shell. Some
residents said no alarm had
sounded. Others said they had
warned repeatedly about fire
safety in the block.
The building had recently
undergone an £8.7 million
refurbishment, which included
new external cladding and
“ We will co-operate with
the relevant authorities and
emergency ser vices and fully
support their inquiries into
the causes of this fire at the
appropriate time,” Rydon, the
firm behind the refurbishment
work, said in a statement.
Residents who escaped told
how they woke up to the smell
of burning and rushed to leave
through smoke-filled corridors
There were reports that some
leaped out of windows. Other
witnesses spoke of children,
including a baby, being thrown
to safety from high windows.
One witness, Tamara, said:
“There’s people, like, throwing
their kids out, ‘Just save my
children, just save my children’. ”
Opposition Labour Party leader
Jeremy Corbyn said sprinkler
systems should be installed in
such blocks and he called on the
government to make a statement
Fire Minister Nick Hurd said
local authorities and fire ser vices
across the country would assess
tower blocks undergoing similar
renovation work to provide
“ In due course when the scene
is secure, when it is possible to
identify the cause of this fire,
there will be proper investigation
and if there are any lessons to be
learned, they will be and action
will be taken,” May said.
Khan said there needed to be
answers after some residents
said they had been advised they
should stay in their flats in the
event of a fire. “ What we can’t
have is a situation where people’s
safety is put at risk because of
bad advice being given or, if it is
the case, as has been alleged, of
tower blocks not being properly
ser viced or maintained,” he said.
Resident Michael Paramasivan
said he had spoken to a woman
who lived on the 21st floor: “She
has got six kids. She left with
all six of them. When she got
downstairs, there was only four
of them with her. She is now
breaking her heart.” — Reuters
Flames and smoke billow from the Grenfell Tower apartment block on Latimer Road in London.
uUp to 600 residents asleep when fire broke out
uFire crews rescue 65 people from blazing block
Flames leap from the Grenfell tower block in north Kensington, west London.
A baby was caught by a member of the
public after being dropped from a west
London tower block as it was engulfed
with flames, a witness says.
Samira Lamrani said she saw a woman
try to save a baby by dropping it from a
window “on the ninth or 10th floor” from
Grenfell Tower in North Kensington.
She told the Press Association: “People
were starting to appear at the windows,
frantically banging and screaming.
“The windows were slightly ajar, a
woman was gesturing that she was about
to throw her baby and if somebody could
catch her baby.
“Somebody did, a gentleman ran
for ward and managed to grab the baby.”
Lamrani added: “I could see people
from all angles, banging and screaming
“ Us members of the public were
reassuring them, telling them we’ve done
what we can and that we’ve phoned 999,
but obviously the look on their face was
“ My daughter’s friend said she obser ved
an adult who made some sort of home-
made parachute and tried to lower
himself out of the window.
“The more I looked up, floor upon floor.
Endless numbers of people.
“ I could hear them screaming for their
Another resident, called Zara, said
she saw a woman throw her son, who
was about five from a fifth or sixth floor
window to escape the blaze.
She told LBC radio: “One woman
actually threw her son out of the window.
I think he’s okay.
“ I think he might have just had some
broken bones and bruises.
“I left my phone at home so I went back
to grab it and, by the time I got back, the
road was completely blocked off, the fire
had dramatically spread.
“ It was like a scene from a Hollywood
movie. ” — PA
uExploding fridge suspected
A London firefighter who ran into the
Grenfell Tower blaze to rescue those trapped
inside says the scene was like the September 11
attacks on the World Trade Centre.
More than 200 firefighters battled the blaze
well in to daylight, and officials have warned it
will take days for them to search the block for
sur vivors or victims.
Firefighters use a riot shield as protection
from falling rubble at the 24-storey residential
Grenfell Tower block.
Terry, who has been a firefighter for 27 years,
said his crew were involved in rescues on the
stairwell of the building, and he went as high as
the 10th floor.
“ We were just meeting people coming down
the stairs in smoke. I don’t know how they were
breathing. We were in breathing apparatus, and
we were like literally carrying them down the
As dawn broke there was no respite.
“ To get into the building we had to run the
gauntlet of the debris,” Terry said.
“The police was providing riot shields, so we
were running the gauntlet every time we went
into the lobby.”
He compared the scene to the September
11 attacks on the US in 2001 when terrorists
hijacked passenger planes and crashed them the
towers of the World Trade Centre in New York.
“There was hose going everywhere. There was
one small staircase that everyone was going up.
It was just like them images of 9/11,” Terry said.
“It ’s like a war zone there.” He had never seen
anything like it before.
When he arrived at the scene around 2am
(local time), only one side of the building was
on fire but within a couple of hours the tower
was engulfed. He spent eight hours working on
“One of my colleagues was hit by someone
who jumped out of a window.
“ To see a whole 24-storey building go up in
flames — how does that happen? How does
that happen in a first world country? How it
happens in London in 2017 is anyone’s guess.”
— Washington Post
Scene ‘like September 11’
Victims say goodbye
on social media
More technology meant people could talk
to loved ones trapped by the London blaze,
but could not help them.
Francis Dean said they told his sister
Zainab to remain in her 14th floor flat with
her two-year-old son Jeremiah.
As he stood watching the blaze, Mr Dean,
47, was able to talk to his sister over the
“I told her to leave by the stairs,” he said,
“ But she said she had been told to stay inside
At one stage, he told The Telegraph, a
firefighter borrowed his phone and spoke to
Zainab: “He told her to keep calm and that
they were coming to get her. He kept saying
that to her again and again.
“But then he handed me the phone and
said: ‘Tell her you love her’.”
“I knew then,” Dean added, “to fear the
“The phone went dead and I couldn’t talk
It was one of the disaster’s cruellest twists:
modern technology meant those trapped in
the fire could talk to the ones they loved. But
those loved ones remained powerless to help,
and after the communications went, they had
no idea whether their brother, sister, husband,
wife, son or daughter had sur vived.
One 30-year-old mother sent a snapchat
“S he is praying in Arabic,” said one friend,
weeping as she recounted what the video
showed. “ You can’t see anything because it ’s
“Forgive me everyone,” the mother cried.
She had been on the 23rd floor with her
two small children when the fire erupted.
Khadija Saye was able to send Facebook
messages from her flat.
“S he was on Facebook saying she was
unable to get out of the flat, that the smoke
was so thick,” said her friend Nicola Green,
the wife of the MP David Lammy.
“S he was saying she just can’t get out and
‘P lease pray for me. There’s a fire in my
council block. I can’t leave the flat. Please
pray for me and my mum. ’
“Someone asked ‘Did you try going down
low with towels?’ She said ‘Yes, it ’s in my
room’. I ’m assuming she meant the smoke. ”
Ms Saye was last heard of about 3am. The
social media appeals for information about
her whereabouts now are continuing.
Others are known to have sur vived — but
only because if the official advice had indeed
been to stay put, they ignored it.
Jamal Ali, 28, said his aunt, Zainab Ali,
had been told by police to stay in her flat
but she had ignored them, running down
the stairs to safety with her five children, The
Some suggested the fire alarms in the block
had only started sounding 30 minutes after the
blaze began. They said that only neighbours
banging on their doors or screaming ‘fire’
allowed them to get out in time.
One man, who escaped from his 17th floor
flat, said he only realised what was going on
when the fire engines arrived.
“ We saw the fire engines,” he said, “So we
were looking outside at what ’s going on.
There was no fire alarms anywhere, because
we don’t have a kind of integrated fire system
— it’s just everyone’s house for itself.
“ I had to really pull myself out to look down
the window, from the 17th floor, and I see the
fire blazing, and coming up really fast - it just
caught up like a matchstick.”
He managed to get himself and his 68-year-
old aunt through thick smoke and out of the
building, he said, but he feared for the fate
of others who waited longer to make their
escape. — PA
Crowds gather for vigil
Dozens of people have gathered for a vigil in
the shadow of the Grenfell Tower.
Many were moved to tears after a moment of
silent contemplation outside the Notting Hill
Methodist Church in west London.
The Rev Mike Long invited those present to
light candles to place on the steps of the church.
He then played Amazing Grace on his flute as
members of the crowd sang along.
“There are times when all the words we can say
are not adequate and sometimes words fail us
because no words can do justice to how we feel,
or what we have seen or what has happened.
Today is one of those days.
“ What we can simply do is look to all that
we have seen today which is good, which is
fabulous — people getting together. Let light
triumph over all that is rotten, that is desperate
and that defies our understanding.” — PA
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