Tuesday 21 January 2020

Here are some of the heroes of the Grenfell Tower tragedy

The death toll from the tragedy has risen to 17, though it is expected to be greater still.

By Peter Cary

As firefighters continue to conduct a thorough search of Grenfell Tower after fire engulfed the high rise building early on Wednesday, stories of heroics from service personnel and members of the public have provided some heart-warming relief from the tragedy.

Here are some of the heroes that emerged from the disaster.



Over 200 firefighters helped tackle the blaze, including one London Fire Brigade worker, Terry, who spent eight hours working at the scene in north Kensington.

Terry told LBC Radio he had seen “nothing like it” during his 27 years in the service, despite working in the aftermath of the 1996 IRA bombing in Canary Wharf.

He said: “We had to literally run under police riot shields because of the amount of flaming debris, just to get into the building.

“There was one small staircase that everyone was going up. It was just like the images of 9/11.

“We were going up the staircase and people were coming down in smoke. I don’t know how they were breathing.”


The firefighter said one of his colleagues had been hit by someone who had jumped out of a window in an attempt to escape the flames.

London Fire Brigade said it had rescued 65 people trapped in the building and had reached all 24 floors, though a full search has yet to be completed.

Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade, Dany Cotton, spoke to Sky News and commended the bravery of the crews that fought to get people to safety, despite facing “unparalleled” scenes of devastation.


She said: “My crews that turned up did absolutely sterling work. They got in there, they were very committed, even though the building was alight from top to bottom.

“And they were in fear of their own lives. They were in and out of that building, committing time after time to rescuing the people that we knew were in there.

“There was never any hesitation. As the Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade I was truly anxious for a long time about the safety of the building and my firefighters in there, but they were never going to stop until they physically couldn’t get in there any more.”

Children thrown to safety


A baby who was thrown from the burning building is thought to have survived unharmed after being caught by an anonymous member of the public.

Samira Lamrani, an eyewitness at the scene, said she witnessed a man run forward to catch the child after a woman on the ninth or 10th floor indicated she wanted to drop it out of harm’s way.

She said: “A woman was gesturing like she was about to throw her baby, if somebody could catch her baby.

“And somebody did and a member of the public, a gentleman, ran forward and managed to grab the baby.”

Ms Lamrani said she believed the child survived unharmed.

Another resident, named Zara, told LBC radio that she had seen a woman throw a child out of the window from the fifth or sixth floor.

She said: “One woman actually threw her son out of the window. I think he’s OK.

“I think he might have just had some broken bones and bruises.”

Community organisations


Members of the public have been praised for their “phenomenal” response to the incident, with community centres stating they have been overwhelmed by donations.

Churches, mosques and sports centres opened their doors to victims of the tragedy, which is thought to have affected up to 150 families living in the building.

Some of the institutions were flooded with so much food, clothing and supplies they began to turn away new donations.

Harris Iqbal, who was helping efforts at the Westway Sports Centre, said: “The community response has been phenomenal – all faith groups, mosques, churches and gurdwaras have opened their doors, charity organisations and everyone have collaborated in a way I’ve never seen in London before.”

Charity Appeals


Several charity campaigns have already collected over £1 million for residents who have lost their homes.

One JustGiving page set up by Karolina Hanusova has collected over £300,000 to help people “get back on their feet”, while another from Hayley Yearwood is over half way towards its £1 million target, at £504,220.

A third campaign from the London Evening Standard had raised £282,939 by 6am on Thursday.

Accommodation offers


Londoners went on social media to offer rooms and board to escapees left without their homes.

Dozens of messages were posted on Twitter and Facebook, including from Red Nose Day director and broadcaster Emma Freud, who lives nearby.

Ms Freud tweeted: “If anyone needs help and a roof, please let me know. We live very near and can look after you.”

Other messages offered shelter, food and fresh pairs of clothes.

One Twitter user, Emily Reynolds, said: “If anyone needs a cup of tea, shelter or to use a phone, my flat is really close by, please DM (direct message).

Local football clubs Queens Park Rangers (QPR) and Fulham rushed to support those left homeless by the blaze.

QPR said it had opened its doors and facilities to those affected by the fire, but also said it could not accept any more donations, while Fulham also helped with the collection drive.

Resident who saved family


A Grenfell Tower resident told Sky News of how he was able to get his family to safety after rushing them past the blaze a few floors below.

Michael Paramasivan said he had not been woken up by the building’s alarm systems.

He said: “I was in bed, I was on the verge of falling asleep, and I smelled plastic.

“I got up, I looked around the flat, checked the plugs: everything was okay.

“I went to the kitchen to smoke a cigarette, I’ve opened the window and I heard some woman saying: “It’s getting bigger! It’s getting bigger!”

Michael said he grabbed his daughter and girlfriend and escorted them out of the building in his underwear before being supplied with clothes and a dressing gown by neighbours.

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