CCTV shows residents of first flats hit by Grenfell fire escaping

Bare-footed Grenfell tenant is seen fleeing in terror from flat where fire started after knocking on neighbours’ doors and calling 999 to raise alarm in CCTV shown to inquiry

  • CCTV was today shown to the Grenfell inquiry showing first residents escaping
  • Behailu Kebede discovered the fire before ringing 999 and waking flatmates 
  • Translated extracts from a 999 recorded him urging other people to get out 

CCTV images show the bare-footed tenant of the flat where the Grenfell Tower fire started as he left the blazing building.

Behailu Kebede, 45, was woken by the sound of his smoke alarm shortly before 1am on June 14, and found white smoke billowing from behind his fridge-freezer.

He alerted his two female housemates, Elsa Afeworki and Almaz Kinfu, before knocking on every door of the neighbouring flats on the block’s fourth floor, ringing 999 and rushing outside.

CCTV images from the night of the Grenfell Tower blaze show Behailu Kebede and Elsa Afeworki leaving the building after calling 999 about a fire in their flat

Their flatmate, Almaz Kinfu, is also seen being helped out of the building by another resident

Security footage stills shown at the inquiry into the disaster today showed Ms Afeworki walking down the stairs into the main lobby at approximately 12.56am, two minutes after the first 999 call.

She is followed at around 12.58am by Mr Kebede, who is seen wearing just a T-shirt and a pair of trousers with no shoes.

Within two minutes, the first firefighter is seen entering the building.

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The inquiry has previously heard the 999 call Mr Kebede – an Ethiopian Uber driver who had lived in the west London block for around 25 years – made shortly after the fire started.

New sections of his 999 call at 12.54am were translated from Amharic, during which he could be heard telling someone: ‘Grab it and leave, just leave. What kind of person is she?’

Counsel to the inquiry Richard Millett told the inquiry at Holborn Bars that Mr Kebede said these words were directed to Ms Kinfu, who had left carrying a suitcase.

The fire which led to the deaths of 72 people started ‘in or around’ a freezer in the trio’s home

The inquiry was previously shown firefighers’ bodycam footage of the fire in the flat

Mr Kebede said in a later police statement: ‘I was a bit annoyed because I saw her with a heavy suitcase and I wanted everyone to leave immediately and no-one else had brought luggage.’

During a lengthy statement to the inquiry, Mr Kebede said he had complained about the quality of a window refit now blamed for fire’s spread.

Mr Kebede and nearly ‘everyone’ in Grenfell Tower had been concerned about the quality of a recent refurbishment and had raised the issue with both the council and their MP.

His kitchen window was replaced during the work, which ’caused problems’ as ‘air was entering my flat through these gaps’ around the frame.

Builders were sent around who ‘put sealant in the gaps’. On Wednesday, the inquiry heard that this sealant was flammable.

Mr Kebede and Ms Afeworki left the building shortly after he called 999, the inquiry heard

CCTV showed other residents fleeing the building as the fire spread up flammable cladding

Experts believe the inferno on June 14 escaped through gaps around Mr Kebede’s window on to the external facade, which had been open on the night of the fire, according to one of his statements.

Mr Kebede, however, said he had ‘no idea’ that ‘highly flammable cladding’ had been installed on the outside of the building.

He had moved to the UK in 1990, was joined by his two brothers in 1991, and was offered a flat in Grenfell Tower soon afterwards.

His statement said: ‘It is difficult to explain just how happy I was to move into Flat 16 in Grenfell Tower with my younger brothers.’

Mr Kebede became friends with many Eritreans and Ethiopians in the building.

Eventually his siblings moved out and, by the time of the fire, he was living with two women who had needed a place to stay, leaving him sleeping on a mattress in the living room.

The inquiry has heard the sealant on a window in the flat was flammable, as was the cladding

He bought the fridge-freezer in or around which the fire is thought to have started several years earlier for around £275 new, his statement said.

On the night of the fire, Mr Kebede heard no explosions and saw no flames in his flat.

His statement said: ‘While I was standing outside I saw the fire get bigger and bigger.’

He phoned a friend and then left the scene, but felt compelled to return later in the night as he had many friends inside Grenfell Tower, according to his evidence.

The statement continued: ‘We walked back to the tower on foot. When I got there the whole tower was engulfed by an inferno on all four sides. It was terrifying. It was much worse than before.’

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