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Grenfell: Police with riot shields blocked frustrated locals

COMMUNITY IN CRISIS: Neighbours come to the aid of a man suffering injuries sustained in the fire this morning

FOLLOWING THE Grenfell Tower fire which claimed six lives, the Ladbroke Grove community are asking the question; 'how could this happen'?

During the night frustrated locals attempted to break through the police cordon as the disaster unfolded, causing police officers to close ranks with riot shields. According to locals, residents trapped in the building were advised by the authorities to remain inside their flats, justifying their demand with claims that they had the fire under control.

The block, which housed hundreds of residents over 24 storeys had undergone renovation only 13 months ago; at a cost of £10.3m.

In spite of this investment, for years a community body, the Grenfell Action Group, has been warning one of richest London borough’s that “only a catastrophic event” would reveal concerns of residents.

In the early hours of this morning the ‘catastrophic event’ unfolded, as a fire developed on one side of the building.

Fusi Warhald has a friend who lives in Grenfell Towers. Speaking to The Voice she recalled her last two conversations with the mother of three in the small hours of this morning:

COMING TOGETHER: Residents are collecting food, water and money for those who have been made homeless

“I was told that she was advised to remain in the building.

“Three hours later, because she lived on the 17th floor, the advice was to place towels at the base of the door. There was nowhere for my friend to escape and I haven’t been able to contact her, since.”

Lulu Tuuryre also has several friends who live in the block and recalls speaking to a friend at approximately 1:30am. She said:

“I was speaking to her on the phone and she said to me ‘I can’t breathe. We are going to die, we are going to die.’ I haven’t been able to contact her since.”

By 2:00am the flames surged from the fourth floor, where the fire was said to have started, causing residents to flick light switches, scream and even jump from their homes to escape the flames.

Ben Lewis, whose mother Joyce Lewis narrowly escaped with her life on the third floor, believes the cladding surrounding the building contributed to the rapid spread of the fire.

“Although I’m relieved my mum escaped, I believe the council has a lot to answer for. In my opinion, the cladding contributed to fireball.”

ALTERED LANDSCAPE: A local looks at burning Grenfell Towers from a distance

During the fire chunks of cladding was seen burning and falling from the building.

Cladding, which is frequently made from wood, metal, plastic or masonry, is applied to buildings to prevent condensation and allows water vapour to escape. Various incidents from around the world have seen cladding catch fire and result in considerable destruction and distress.

From the early hours of the morning residents from Grenfell Tower have been housed in various shelters, where food, clothes and water have been deposited by locals in a dramatic outpouring of grief. Reverend Mark O’Donoghu from Saint Clements Church, is co-ordinating relief for residents, by providing food, clothes and emotional comfort. The Church of England building starting housing approximately 150 people sat 3:30am, following the disaster.

Commenting on the communities response to the incident O’Donoghu said:

“Some people have come to the church exhausted, others are simply happy to be alive, while some have come to provide aid, such as off-duty doctors.

“What we are seeing is typical of our community and is London at its best, during a crisis.

“Sadly, we have seen others who are going from one centre to the next to find a lost relative.”

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