Grenfell Tower fire: 'number of fatalities' as blaze engulfs London tower block

June 15, 2017

Two hideous sounds summed up the horror – the screams of children and the sickening thump as people leapt to their deaths.
In scenes akin to New York on 9/11, at least five desperate souls chose to jump from the towering inferno to try to avoid burning to death.
One mother dropped her baby from a ninth-floor window, which was miraculously caught by a man holding out a blanket below.

In just fifteen minutes of horror, 120 homes were turned into a towering inferno. 

Six hundred people lived inside 120 flats spread over 24 floors in Grenfell Tower. In just 15 minutes, they were completely consumed by a towering inferno that is believed to have ended dozens of lives
Others tied bed sheets together to try to form ropes while some attempted to make parachutes out of bin liners.
Residents had been advised to stay in their flats and await rescue. But for those who did, the ferocity of the blaze meant they almost certainly perished.

The stairwell – the only escape route – was engulfed in intense heat and black smoke.
As the flames drew nearer, families phoned their loved ones to say goodbye.
It is almost unbelievable that such a tragedy could unfold in a country with some of the strictest fire regulations in the world.
12:50am and fridge explodes in flat 16
The fate of the 600 residents of Grenfell Tower was sealed shortly before 12.50am, when the fridge in Flat 16 on the fourth floor apparently exploded into flames.
Neighbour Maryam Adam, 41, who is pregnant, said: 'He [her neighbour] 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.
'That means he took the stuff from his flat, and then he told the neighbours.
'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'.
Samira Lamrini said: 'The man whose flat it was came out and said it was his flat. He was a slim, tall, white British man.
'He was pointing at the fire on a lower floor and said, 'That's my flat, that's it'. He said it was his fridge that had exploded.
'He started filming it on his phone. He was upset but I don't think he had a clue about the scale of what was happening.
'After that the fire went up in minutes, it was so fast. The speed with which it took hold was terrifying. It was like a tissue being set alight. It just went whoosh, so quickly. I didn't see him after that.'

A man at the scene told witnesses that his fridge exploded on the seventh floor in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The first calls were placed to emergency services at 12.54am and fire fighters arrived six minutes later

Despite the rapid response time, the building was well alight by the time rescuers arrived, with some saying it went up 'like tissue paper'. Questions are being asked about whether the cladding was to blame

Chaos and a cacophony of screaming children
Chaos and confusion swept through the tower block as its residents were woken up by sirens, screams and the smell of acrid smoke.
Mrs Lamrini 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.

Mobile phones used as torches to signal help
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 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…'
Miracle of the baby caught in a blanket
Mrs Lamrini 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.'
Desperate residents jump to their deaths
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, adding: 'It was rapid, the fire was growing well out of control. There is only the stairs, which is smoke, it's dark, it's scary, it's a trip hazard. There are elderly, there are children, there's disabled people. People were jumping out of the place, there is a man who threw two of his children.'
Another resident, called Zara, said she saw a mother with a boy who looked about five at a fifth or sixth floor window. She told LBC: 'She actually threw her son out of the window. I think he's OK.'

Such was the desperation of people trapped inside by the smoke and flames that they even tried to construct makeshift parachutes from bin bags. One constructed a 30ft rope out of bedsheets


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