A RESIDENT of Grenfell Tower told the Star yesterday that she’s lucky to be alive after a neighbour banged on her door to wake up because communal fire alarms could not be heard.
Zoe Dee, who has lived in the tower for almost 30 years, praised her next door neighbour and old school friend Mahad Egal for waking her and her boyfriend out of their deep sleep.
The fire broke out just after 1am on Tuesday and spread through 24 floors of the council block within 15 minutes. So far, 30 people are confirmed dead with the actual death toll rumoured to be over 100.
Ms Dee, who lived on the fourth floor — where the fire had started in another flat — said: “I stayed inside because that’s what we were told to do, but I phoned another of my neighbours who was outside and she said you’ve got to get out.
“I opened the front door to see two to three firemen struggling to get the dry riser box open. It had no water. None of the communal smoke alarms were going off.
“I grabbed my phone, trainers and keys. When I went back to the door there was a thick black cloud of smoke that triggered the smoke alarm in my flat.”
After fleeing the building, they saw flames spreading, windows popping and cladding melting. Fireballs of debris set fire to nearby trees. They were told by police to move further and further back in fear of being hit by burning fragments.
She said: “We were outside watching it being completely covered in flames while people were at their windows flicking lights for attention. “People outside were on the floor screaming and crying about their relatives inside.
“When it started to spread to the middle, I remember seeing my neighbour on a bench shaking and screaming.
“I am trying to process it but I’ve been keeping myself busy sorting out practicalities. At times I have been crying uncontrollably. I’m also very very angry about the council’s failings that lead to so many people dying and being displaced.
“We are demanding to not be moved out of the borough. Kensington and Chelsea Council should put us up in the empty houses if there is nowhere else. We refuse to be moved out.”