UK

London fire: How one Grenfell Tower resident escaped

Christos Fairbairn Image copyright Christos Fairbairn

When a fire broke out at Grenfell Tower housing block in west London early Wednesday morning, a number of occupants were able to escape. One of them was 15th floor resident Christos Fairbairn, 41, who has told his story. (Readers may find some details of his account 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.

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.

Image caption Forty fire engines and 200 firefighters tackled the blaze

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.

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 breathe. 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 Earl's Court in London where I am staying now.

Image copyright Christos Fairbairn
Image caption Christos enjoying a drink while on holiday

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.

Produced by Rozina Sini, BBC's UGC and Social News team

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