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London fire: Man in flat where fire started packed clothes

This is the mini-cab driver whose faulty fridge started the Grenfell Tower inferno and raised the alarm, a neighbour claims.

Behailu Kebede, a father of one, banged on his neighbour’s door, potentially saving hundreds of lives – after flames took in the kitchen of his fourth floor flat.

Maryann Adam, 41, said: ‘He knocked on the door, and he said there was a fire in his flat. 

‘It was exactly 12.50am because I was sleeping and it woke me up.

‘When we got up, I saw outside his flat his luggage – there was a big bag with his clothes. 

Raised alarm: Behailu Kebede, a father of one, pictured, whose faulty fridge started the Grenfell Tower inferno and raised the alarm, a neighbour claims

Raised alarm: Behailu Kebede, a father of one, pictured, whose faulty fridge started the Grenfell Tower inferno and raised the alarm, a neighbour claims

Faulty fridge: Mr Kebede, pictured, banged on his neighbour’s door, potentially saving hundreds of lives – after flames took in the kitchen of his fourth floor flat

Wrecked: The charred shell of Grenfell Tower today.  A resident whose faulty fridge exploded and started the blaze packed a bag and then raised the alarm, his pregnant neighbour claims

Wrecked: The charred shell of Grenfell Tower today.  A resident whose faulty fridge exploded and started the blaze packed a bag and then raised the alarm, his pregnant neighbour claims

Firefighters were still damping down the building today, before it was deemed unsafe for them to enter

Firefighters were still damping down the building today, before it was deemed unsafe for them to enter

The 27-storey Grenfell building, which was built in 1974 but refurbished last year, has an average of six flats per floor lived in by council tenants and a smaller number of private owners or tenants - fire had largely engulfed it in around 15 minutes

The 27-storey Grenfell building, which was built in 1974 but refurbished last year, has an average of six flats per floor lived in by council tenants and a smaller number of private owners or tenants – fire had largely engulfed it in around 15 minutes

‘The fire was small in the kitchen. I could see it because the flat door was open. There was no alarm.’

At 12.54am, the fire brigade was called, and the first engines arrived within six minutes. But witnesses said that the speed at which the fire tore up the tower was incredible – like ‘a tissue being set alight’. 

Eshete Meried, a friend of 44-year-old Mr Kebede, said the taxi driver was still in shock.

‘He did raise the alarm, that is what I am hearing.

‘He is fine but he is not in a position to talk about anything right now. I understand that he in a temporary shelter, staying with friends.’ 

Chaos and confusion swept through the tower block as its residents were woken up by sirens, screams and the smell of acrid smoke.

Mrs Lamrani said: ‘The sound of children begging for help as they were trapped in the upper floors is something I will never be able to forget.

‘It was a cacophony of anguished screams, horrendous to listen to. It was traumatising – their voices, their high pitched voices – I could hear them screaming for their lives.’

Within minutes, it became clear that the advice to residents to stay in their flats until help arrived was beginning to cost lives. Some had left their flats but been ordered back inside by emergency services, it was reported.

Witnesses watched helplessly as people trapped in smoke-filled flats took it in turns to suck breaths of air through windows designed to open only fractionally. 

Trapped residents flashed torches, their mobile phones and even fairy lights from their windows in a desperate attempt to attract the attention of rescuers.

One witness said: ‘People were taking it in turns to get air from the window, and flashing their phones, and then the fire just took them. You could hear people yelling from the top, ‘Help, get my children out!’ and you are just standing there, and watching people die, burning…’ 

Mrs Lamrani said: ‘A woman shouted down frantically for someone to help her baby. A man came with a blanket and waited down below. Amazingly he caught the baby, which looked OK. The child was about 11 months old.

‘But one middle-aged man came down from a long way up, and landed on the floor with an awful thump. I don’t think the paramedics could do anything for him, he came from so high.’ 

Undertakers remove bodies from Grenfell Tower yesterday. But the recovery of the dead is likely to take several more days 

Undertakers remove bodies from Grenfell Tower yesterday. But the recovery of the dead is likely to take several more days 

A body wrapped up in a blanket, obscured by MailOnline,  lies in the ground floor of the White City tower block largely destroyed by fire over night

A body wrapped up in a blanket, obscured by MailOnline, lies in the ground floor of the White City tower block largely destroyed by fire over night

A friend of a mother who lives in the tower block said  she sent her a Snapchat video of the blaze at 3am. Ranya Ibrahim, 30, sent her friend Maseen (pictured) a clip just moments after the blaze started. She has not been seen since

A friend of a mother who lives in the tower block said  she sent her a Snapchat video of the blaze at 3am. Ranya Ibrahim, 30, sent her friend Maseen (pictured) a clip just moments after the blaze started. She has not been seen since

It is believed the first five people to be confirmed dead were those who had jumped or fallen.

One resident wept as he described how people ‘just threw their kids out, screaming ‘save my children’.’ Another said his mother stepped over a dead body to escape the building.

One man claimed he saw a child who was on fire leap from the 22nd floor, adding: ‘He walked to the window, and he jumped.’

Another witness, Mahad Egal, said he saw children being thrown from the building.

Mahad Egal sobbed as he described children  being thrown from the building

Mahad Egal sobbed as he described children being thrown from the building

The death toll from the devastating tower block fire in west London is expected to rise as investigators trawl through the wreckage in the search for other victims.

At least 12 people have died after the huge fire destroyed Grenfell Tower in north Kensington, where flames could still be seen burning more than a day on from the disaster.

More than £1 million has been raised to help those affected as fire tore through the 24-storey building while volunteers and charities helped with feed and shelter people who could not return to their homes overnight.

A wall of condolence was put up near the scene with photographs showing dozens of messages left for loved ones.

Prime Minister Theresa May has promised a ‘proper investigation’ after the building went up in flames early on Wednesday morning amid growing concerns about how the fire could have spread so rapidly.

Speaking in Downing Street, Mrs May said: ‘When it’s possible to identify the cause of this fire, then of course there will be proper investigation and if there are any lessons to be learnt they will be, and action will be taken.’

Residents’ groups have claimed they voiced concerns about the safety of the building, which had been recently refurbished, while those who escaped complained their fire alarms had not been set off by the blaze.

One focus for the investigation will be the building’s cladding, which TV architect George Clarke said may have accelerated the blaze.

Mr Clarke, who lives locally and appears on Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces, told BBC’s Newsnight: ‘ I saw those cladding panels, the cladding on the outside and the insulation was just peeling off, like you’d peel a banana.

‘It was fully on fire. I could see the flames behind – there’s a new cladding system put on the outsides that looks like a new skin, there’s an air gap an insulation behind that, to me that looks like a fantastic chimney for the fire to rage around.’

Grenfell Tower, which built in 1974, was recently refurbished at a cost of £8.6 million, with work completed in May last year.

Kensington and Chelsea Council admitted it had received complaints over the works, after a residents’ action group said its warnings about safety had fallen on ‘deaf ears’.

A blog post from Grenfell Action Group in November said ‘only a catastrophic event’ would expose the concerns residents had.

 

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