London Fire: How one Grenfell Tower resident escaped – BBC News

Image copyright Christos Fairbairn

When Grenfell Tower in west London caught on fire in the early hours of Wednesday, a number of its occupants were able to escape the blaze that killed many of their neighbours and has left many others unaccounted for. One of them was 15th floor resident Christos Fairbairn, 41, who has told his own story of that night. (Some readers may find his account to be distressing).


I live on the 15th floor of Grenfell Tower. I moved there two years ago.

At around 12.45am on Wednesday morning I was watching TV when I heard aggressive knocking at my door. I heard more activity and noise outside and shortly after I heard an alarm go off in the building. I saw smoke coming into the flat and that’s when I realised there was a fire.

Image copyright Reuters

I rang the fire service and they told me to get out. They said “Wrap a wet towel around yourself and get out of the block.”

But I opened the door and the smoke was so thick I couldn’t. I tried to leave the flat three times and each time the smoke was too thick.

I started to panic. I began banging on the window shouting: “Help me, help me, I’m stuck!” I tried to open the window but I burnt my hand on the melted plastic.

I could see police outside and people just standing there. It felt like they were just watching me. Then I realised if I don’t go I would die here.

I wrapped a wet jumper around myself and ran out of the door with just the clothes on my back and my phone. The smoke was black and it was so hot and I couldn’t breathe but I kept going.

Image caption 40 fire engines and 200 firefighters tackled the blaze

I could feel myself tripping over in the dark. I was tripping over bodies. On one of the floors I tripped badly and fell, as I looked up I saw the face of a dead man.

I can still picture him now.

As I got to the third or fourth floor I was choking and couldn’t breath. I started to feel faint. I collapsed and that’s when I felt a firefighter grab me.

I went to hospital and was treated for smoke inhalation. I had so much poison in my lungs. I was crying and having flashbacks.

Now I am left with nothing and have nowhere to live. But the council have paid for a room for me in Earls Court in London where I am staying now.

Image copyright Christos Fairbairn
Image caption Christos says he feels lucky to be alive

“I can’t believe I am alive. I will never forget what happened and how traumatising it was. I know I will never live in a tower block again.

I feel lucky to be alive but I am devastated for those who were injured and lost their lives. Life is so short I know I will see my family and friends more now and appreciate the life I have. I shouldn’t be here today but I am, and for that I am thankful.”

Compiled by Rozina Sini, BBC’s UGC and Social News team

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