Grenfell Tower fire: Teenage girl who lost everything in horrific blaze sat GCSE exam that morning

'I put on my jeans and a top and just grabbed by phone and chemistry notes,' says Ines Alvez

Maya Oppenheim
Thursday 15 June 2017 15:59
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Despite the tragic and shocking circumstances of the night which saw 17 people killed, Alves rushed straight to Sacred Heart School in Hammersmith
Despite the tragic and shocking circumstances of the night which saw 17 people killed, Alves rushed straight to Sacred Heart School in Hammersmith

A brave teenager who escaped the horrific Grenfell Tower fire with her revision notes sat a Chemistry GCSE exam that same morning.

Ines Alves, just 16, had been up late revising for her exam on Tuesday night when her father Miguel noticed there were plumes of smoke coming from the fourth floor.

The 49-year-old is said to have run straight up the stairs to their 13th floor flat and warned his daughter and son of the news so they could flee the increasingly fire-ravaged 24-storey building in west London.

Despite the tragic and shocking circumstances of the night which saw 17 people killed and many more critically injured, Ms Alves rushed straight to Sacred Heart School in Hammersmith to sit her exam in the same clothes she fled the burning building in.

"I put on my jeans and a top and just grabbed by phone and chemistry notes. I was trying to revise while we waited downstairs as we thought it was a small fire at first but it was impossible,” she told the Daily Mirror.

"Considering what had happened I think the exam went OK. I want to do A-level chemistry and I need an A in science so I was thinking of my future when I decided to sit the exam."

After taking the exam, she met the rest of her family, her parents, Miguel and Fatima, and her brother Tiago to help other families whose lives had been upturned by the devastating fire. They visited a number of community centres, carrying food and water around the area.

"I just wanted to do all I could to help and I wanted to see my friends, who were also helping. They've been incredibly supportive,” she added.

Her brother, who just identified himself as Tiago to the paper, said his sister was completely aware she was under no obligation to sit the GCSE due to “extenuating circumstances” but was nevertheless determined to do so anyway.

The physics student at Kings College in London added: "We realised about 3am that our flat had been destroyed and despite being at a friend's house, my sister couldn't sleep, so she studied for the exam instead.

"We had told her she didn't have to sit the exam because of the extenuating circumstances, but she had studied so hard for it she was determined she was going to take it.

"Her school had even contacted the exam board and told her she didn't have to come in, but she wants to study chemistry at A-level. She said it went well, and my sister is a smart girl, so if she said it went well, it did."

Tiago, who also lost all of his possessions in the inferno, added: "We aren't worried about what will happen. We're just trying to help other people as much as we can. The future is still uncertain and we will look to the future when it arrives."

Polly Neate, the CEO of a charity which campaigns against domestic violence called Women's Aid, said other girls from the tower block had also turned up to sit their exams.

"Girls from my 13 year old's school who lived in #GrenfellTower lost everything and still turned up for GCSEs next day in night clothes," she wrote on Twitter.

At least 17 people have died in the horrendous fire which ravaged London's skyline but the Metropolitan Police warned the death toll is expected to increase yet further. Commander Stuart Cundy said 17 people are currently in critical condition and police are seeking to identify and locate the people who continue to be missing.

Dany Cotton, the London Fire Brigade commissioner, said: “This is an unprecedented incident. In my 29 years of being a firefighter, I have never ever seen anything of this scale.”

Ms Cotton has also warned firefighters attempting to rescue residents entrapped in the Grenfell Tower blaze were “in tears” and might be faced with psychological issues in the future. London Fire Brigade has said more than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines were forced to rush to the blaze on Latimer Road, near Notting Hill, which erupted from the second floor upwards.

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