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Witnesses tell of screams and residents leaping from tower block

The 24-storey Grenfell Tower engulfed in flames in north Kensington.


Smoke billows from a fire that engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London (Rick Findler/PA)

Smoke billows from a fire that engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London (Rick Findler/PA)

Smoke billows from a fire that engulfed the 27-storey Grenfell Tower in west London (Rick Findler/PA)

Witnesses have described screams of terror and people jumping in a bid to reach safety after the blaze ripped through Grenfell Tower.

Others spoke of safety concerns and the panic sparked by unfounded fears terrorism could be to blame for the disastrous fire.

One witness described hearing a neighbour screaming for help before apparently jumping out as flames engulfed his seventh-storey flat.

Speaking from an evacuation centre on Freston Road, the woman, who asked not to be named, told the Press Association: “We were being evacuated from Testerton Walk, which is next to Grenfell, at about 1am, at that point it looked like just one side of the building was on fire, but within about 40 minutes we could see at least three sides were burning.

“There was a woman stood behind me who was shouting to someone she knew on the seventh floor. She was on the phone trying to speak to him, she was obviously very emotional because the flats were blazing at this point.

“He looked like he was screaming to her.

“Police said for anyone at the windows to wave a rag or something so the firemen could rescue them, but we thought: how are they gonna do that?

“I saw the woman later and she was hysterical.

“She said her friend jumped. The whole of his window was on fire.”

She added: “Everybody was crying. Nobody really knew what was going, or what is happening from now on.

“Where do people go? People have been saying the whole building could collapse at any stage. So frightening.”

A long-time neighbour to the block, who saw the destruction unfold, said she at first feared terrorists were responsible.

Muna Ali, 45, said: “The flames, I have never seen anything like it, it just reminded me of 9/11.

“The fire started on the upper floors … oh my goodness, it spread so quickly, it had completely spread within half an hour.

“My friends live on the fourth floor, someone knocked on their door they didn’t know and they got out. They have three children.

“Some people were knocking on doors but the people inside didn’t open the door.

“I have lived here almost 21 years and I have never seen anything like this, at first I thought it was terrorism, we were just panicking.”

A man who lived on the 17th floor of the block, identified as Methrob, told LBC Radio: “I heard the fire trucks and so I was alerted that something was going on.

“There was no fire alarm in the building, we don’t have an integrated fire alarm system.

“I went outside my house and I could smell the smoke. I looked out my window, I leaned over and I could see the fire blazing up. I woke up my auntie who was sleeping, it was about 1.15am, and we started to make our way down.

“I warned a couple of my neighbours, the ones nearest to me, and we basically went as fast as we could.”

He said the fire was inside one apartment, but added the “real issue was when it caught fire to the cladding outside.

“That’s when I noticed the fire from outside when I looked out the window.

“By the time that we got downstairs, the fire had gone all the way up and it was just about reaching our windows on the 17th floor.

“The whole one side of the building was on fire.

“The cladding went up like a matchstick.”

Ann Waters lives in a house at the foot of the tower and was forced to flee her home when burning debris began raining down.

The 57-year-old said: “It was the screaming that was the worst and I could hear that from the ground, all I could hear was ‘help, help, help’.

“I was watching TV in bed and I could smell smoke and then I heard a fire engine and I jumped up.

“I went to my back bedroom, I thought if something was on fire I would see, and I was just speechless, the guy next door was screaming at people to get out of the building.

“Then about 20 minutes later when I went out the front I could see all the debris coming down and I could see the crap coming down and a police officer told me to shut the door and leave and go to the end of the road.

“It was like something out of a nightmare.”