Grenfell Tower fire caused by faulty fridge on fourth floor, reports suggest

Flat owner reportedly ran to warn neighbours after discovering blaze in his kitchen

Benjamin Kentish
Friday 16 June 2017 14:25
Images showed the interior of Grenfell Tower after a fire engulfed the building
Images showed the interior of Grenfell Tower after a fire engulfed the building

The deadly fire that broke out at Grenfell Tower was caused by a faulty fridge in a fourth-floor apartment, reports suggest.

The flat’s owner, said to be mini-cab driver Behailu Kebede, reportedly attempted to warn other residents about the blaze in his kitchen, potentially saving lives.

Neighbours told how Mr Kebede, a father of one, immediately raised the alarm after discovering the fire in his flat, which was number 16 in the 24-story block, as well as contacting the police and fire services.

​Maryann Adam, 41, lived next door to Mr Kebede at number 14. She said her neighbour had woken her up to warn her about the fire.

“He knocked on the door, and he said there was a fire in his flat,” she told MailOnline. “It was exactly 12.50am because I was sleeping and it woke me up.

“The fire was small in the kitchen. I could see it because the flat door was open. There was no alarm.”

Grenfell Tower fire: How the community responded

The account appears to back up reports in the hours immediately after the fire suggesting a faulty fridge had been to blame, but investigators said their inquiries are at an early stage and have not confirmed what started the blaze.

The fire engulfed the building within minutes - fuelled, reports suggest, by cladding that had been added to the outside of the tower last year in order to improving the appearance of the block.

Seventeen people are confirmed to have died in the blaze but police said they expect the death toll to rise significantly.

Mr Kebede’s friend, Eshete Meried, said the taxi driver, who is originally from Ethiopia, escaped the building but was in shock.

“Behailu did raise the alarm, that is what I am hearing,” she said.

“He is fine but he is not in a position to talk about anything right now. I understand that he in a temporary shelter, staying with friends.”

Mr Kebede said he was “very upset” but did not want to comment further.

It comes as police opened a criminal investigation into whether any individual or company should be held legally responsible for the fire.

Reports suggest that warnings by residents about inadequate fire safety provisions in the tower block were not dealt with by the building’s management company, Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation.

Theresa May also announced there will be a full public inquiry, led by a judge, to get to the bottom of what happened and rule on whether the fire could and should have been prevented.

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