Reports are coming in that a Sierra Leonean living in the United Kingdom —Madam Zainab Dean —along with her four-year-old son, Jeremiah, are unaccounted for and are presumed to have been among the dozen of people killed horror fire at the 24-storey Grenfall Tower public housing in London yesterday morning.
The deadly fire, which started around 4 am GMT while the residents were asleep , quickly spread through the high-rise building, trapping residents , some of whom were seen jumping out of windows or tossing out their babies in one of the worst fire disasters ever in England.
“In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never, ever seen anything of this scale”, London Fire Brigade Commissioner Dany Cotton was quoted to have said. Twelve people are reported dead but the figures are expected to rise, according to authorities.
The DAILY TELEGRAPH of London, reported in part :
A number of residents may have perished in the fire after being told to stay inside their flats by the emergency services.
Francis Dean, 47, said his sister Zainab told him on the phone she had been instructed to remain in her 14th floor flat with her two year old son Jeremiah by fire fighters.
He told The Telegraph: “My sister called me to say there was a fire in the tower. I told her to leave by the stairs but she said she had been told to stay inside her flat. That was in the early hours of today and I’ve not heard from her since. I fear the worst.”
Mr Dean, who works for a distribution firm, said that at one stage a fire fighter borrowed his phone and spoke to Zainab.
“He told her to keep calm and that they were coming to get her. He kept saying that to her again and again,” he said. “But then he handed me the phone and said to me ‘Tell her you love her’. I knew then to fear the worst. The phone went dead and I couldn’t talk to her.”
“I’m so upset. Jeremiah was a wonderful boy, always happy, always smiling. He loved playing football with me.”
Others also told how their loved ones had been instructed to remain in their flats.
Jamal Ali, 28, said his aunt, Zainab Ali, had been told by police to stay in her flat but she had ignored them, fleeing to safety with her five children down the stairs.
“The police were telling her to stay inside, but she ran down the stairs with her kids and managed to get away – otherwise she’d be dead.”
Mr Ali also said other relatives in the block had told him the fire alarm had only begun to sound 30 minutes after the fire started.