Footage Played To Grenfell Inquiry Shows Firefighters Entering Flat Where Blaze Began

Kathryn Snowdon

Footage of the moment firefighters entered the flat where the Grenfell Tower blaze began has been played to the public inquiry into the tragedy.

“Black smoke billowed out” when firefighters broke down the door to flat 16, where the blaze started on the fourth floor of the 24-storey tower on June 14..

Thermal imaging camera footage was played on Tuesday during a presentation by Niamh Nic Daeid, professor of forensic science at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at Dundee University.

One of several experts appointed by the inquiry, Professor Nic Daeid was explaining the origins of the fire and how it spread.

Four fire engines were initially deployed to Grenfell Tower after survivor Behailu Kebede, who lived in flat 16 and woke his neighbours to alert them to the danger, called 999 at 12.54am. 

Kebede, who lived with two other people, was woken by the smoke alarm and saw smoke coming from his kitchen.

After waking his neighbours he turned off the power supply to his flat, left the building and called the emergency services, the inquiry heard.

An audio of Kebede’s call was played, in which he could be heard telling the operator twice that the fire was “by the fridge side” in his flat.

Two fire engines arrived at 12.59am and two more arrived at 1.08am

The four-minute clip showed firefighters entering the flat at 1.07am, 13 minutes after the first 999 call was made.

The crew can be seen entering a smoke-clogged corridor and rooting through the flat, before being confronted by a bright yellow glow in the kitchen.

“The yellow glow that you can see is the fire,” the expert said.

Firefighters can then be seen spraying liquid at the fire, which was put out in the flat itself at 1.20am.

A split-screen was used to show mobile phone footage of the flames beginning to spread up the outside of the building at the same time.

The professor said: “The yellow glow that you can see is the fire that is down at the window ledge in the kitchen.

“The firefighters attempted to put out the fire and we can see there the hose reel is attempting to put water on the fire.

“They close the door and they open the door again to see that the fire is still present.

“At this point, the firefighters spend some time discussing what tactics they can use to tackle the fire that is in the corner of the kitchen.”

Crews re-entered at 1.20am and extinguished the fire.

However, embers could be seen falling from the tower’s external facade at 1.08am, the expert said, and the blaze had started spreading from the kitchen window at 1.09am.

“This is around five minutes before the firefighters entered the kitchen for the first time,” she added.

Prof Nic Daeid said the cause of the fire was still “undetermined” as further tests needed to be carried out on the fridge freezer and surrounding electrical appliances to establish the exact chain of events.

The inquiry continues.