Monday 23 October 2017

How survivors managed to escape the Grenfell Tower fire

There are some incredible tales of survival.

By Jessica Pitocchi

Residents of Grenfell Tower have described how they escaped the burning building.

While some attempted to leave their flats using damp towels as shields, witnesses reported seeing people resort to throwing children from windows in an attempt to save them.

A baby who was thrown from a window

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One witness described the moment someone dropped a baby from a window “on the ninth or 10th floor” as the fire raged through the tower block.

Samira Lamrani told the Press Association: “The windows were slightly ajar, a woman was gesturing that she was about to throw her baby and if somebody could catch her baby.”

Lamrani then saw a member of the public run forward and catch the infant, who she believes was unharmed.

A man who tripped over bodies on the way out

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Christos Fairbairn, who lived on the 15th floor, told the BBC he heard noises outside and loud knocking on his door before smoke started to pour in.

After calling the fire service, who told him to get out, he attempted to leave but could not because of the thickness of the smoke outside his door.

He said he banged on his window calling for help, but burnt his hand on the melted plastic as he tried to open it.

Then, taking the emergency service’s advice, he wrapped a wet jumper around himself and left the flat.

He described running down a stairwell so thick with smoke that he could barely see or breathe. Tripping in the dark, he realised the stairwell was littered with bodies.

After collapsing on a lower floor, he was rescued by a firefighter and later treated for smoke inhalation.

A man who was woken up by screams

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Paul Mennacer, who was asleep in his flat on the seventh floor when residents became aware of the fire, was woken by people screaming and shouting “don’t jump”.

Despite black smoke filling his flat, he said: “My instinct told me ‘Just grab your shoes and run out’.

“It was hard to get out because the fire exit stairwell was on the side of the fire and so there was a lot of debris falling.”

The residents who were told to stay inside

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Michael Paramasivan, 37, lived on the seventh floor with his girlfriend Hannah West, 23, and her five-year-old daughter Thea.

They escaped the inferno after choosing to leave their flat, contrary to the advice they were given.

Paramasivan said: “If we’d listened to them and stayed in the flat we’d have perished.”

The firefighters who led residents to safety

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Edward Daffarn, a resident who is a part of the Grenfell Action Group that urged the building’s landlords to improve fire safety back in November, told Buzzfeed News he almost died trying to escape.

After tying a damp towel round his face, he attempted to leave his flat on the 16th floor but couldn’t find the fire exit through the smoke.

He said a fireman who was lying on the ground opened the fire exit door for him.

“He touched my leg and that was enough,” Daffarn said.

“That enabled me to get out.”

Those who were woken by neighbours

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One woman who escaped with her family after being woken by a call from neighbours on a higher floor, said she didn’t know how big the fire was until she got outside.

Turafat Yilma, 39, along with her husband Abraham, 44, and five-year-old son Abem, had tried to leave, but the thick smoke in the corridor prevented them from using the staircase.

A firefighter later reached the seventh floor, knocked on their door and led them outside.

“It took us less than five minutes,” she said.

Press Association

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