‘Burning cladding was falling like plastic rain’: Grenfell survivor tells of ‘horrific’ blaze as he reveals his daughter who fled the burning tower with her GCSE revision notes got an A after sitting her chemistry exam the next day
- Manuel Miguel Alves was one of the first to discover the blaze on the 4th floor
- He told how his daughter sat her chemistry GCSE the next day and got an A
- Mr Alves told the inquiry today that he ignored fire safety advice to stay put
- He said he believed that the fire brigade had enough time to evacuate the block
Manuel Miguel Alves giving evidence at the inquiry today
A survivor of the Grenfell Tower disaster who was one of the first to discover the blaze told how his daughter sat her chemistry GCSE the next day – and got an A.
Manuel Miguel Alves, who lived on the 13th floor, saw the early stages of the fire on the fourth floor as he was going up to his flat in a lift shortly before 1am.
He then decided to head up to his home to warn his children, and ignored fire safety notices that advised residents to stay inside their flat.
Mr Alves also told the inquiry at the Old Bailey that he believed there would have been enough time for the fire brigade to evacuate the high-rise.
His daughter Ines, fled with just her revision notes, and despite reeling from the events the night before, came away with an A.
He said in a statement: ‘I am so proud of her and how she overcame the horror of that night and was able to take her exam.’
Explaining why he ignored the advice, he said: ‘I think on my mind it was to save myself, because if [the] fire is on the 4th floor, I’m on the 13th floor, why should I be in the trap when I have the opportunity to come out?
‘In the event of the fire, if they spread they will go worse. I don’t know why we would wait in the trap, we should come out.
‘Every minute it was worse inside the tower at that time.’
Mr Alves lived on the 13th floor of the tower block and was one of the first to discover the fire
Mr Alves knocked on the door of the five other flats on his floor despite fearing that they may be annoyed to be woken up.
When he left the tower in the early hours of June 14 last year, he told his wife that he had alerted their neighbours.
He said: ‘She asked ‘why did you do that?’ No-one thought it was a serious thing.’
Mr Alves then watched in horror as flames spread from the bottom to the top of the tower ‘within about 15 minutes’.
He said burning cladding was falling ‘like plastic rain’, and the noise was ‘horrific’.
Mr Alves says he ignored fire safety advice to ‘stay put’ as the blaze took hold. Pictured: Police man a security cordon around the tower on the night of the blaze
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He continued in the statement: ‘Looking at the fire on Grenfell Tower, it seemed clear that the fire brigade should have gone to the top of the tower, knocked on all the doors and got people out.
‘There was still enough time to evacuate the building and it was clear the fire could not be stopped and that this was the only choice.
‘It was out of control within minutes and I could see the fire hoses could not reach high enough and could not stop it.’
Mr Alves continued: ‘The police started to push us back and they could see that the fire was out of control.
‘They started to say that ‘the building could fall down’.
The burnt out shell of the tower block. Mr Alves lived on the 13th floor of the block
‘I remember thinking that if this is what they thought, then they should have entered the building, and moved people out.’
Mr Alves phoned his friend, Marcio Gomes, who was on the 21st floor with his heavily-pregnant wife and two young daughters.
He phoned him at around 1.30am to 1.35am, telling him he had to leave immediately.
He said: ‘He did not leave and said he was waiting for the fire brigade, who had told him to stay in the flat.
‘I said that there was no way for him to stay and he had to get out. I was terrified for him and his wife. She was eight months pregnant.
‘I spoke to him in Portuguese and kept saying if he stayed there he was going to die.’
Mr Alves described how he struggled to phone Mr Gomes back, fearing it may be the last time he would speak with his friend.
‘I was thinking about Marcio and his wife. I just could not phone him.
‘I did not know if he was still inside and if he did speak to me, whether they might be his final words.’
Mr Alves tried to ring again after being persuaded to make contact with his friend by his wife.
He said: ‘When I did the phone rang but there was no answer.
‘Strangely this gave me hope that he was alive and just maybe they had been able to leave and could not answer because he was coming out.
‘The next day I heard the news that many were dead, although later found out that Marcio and his family were alive in hospital.’
Watching his evidence were his wife, Maria de Fatima Alves, and children Tiago and Ines, as well as London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Mr Khan was seen chatting with survivors of the tragedy before proceedings commenced.
A total of 72 people died in the blaze on June 14 last year, with another resident dying in January.
The inquiry is hearing from survivors, relatives and friends of those who died and nearby residents, at Holborn Bars in Central London.
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