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Grenfell firefighters were ‘betrayed’ over stay-put policy, survivor claims

Firefighters lay their helmets on the ground as they observe a minute’s silence near to Grenfell Tower (Jonathan Brady/PA) Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

A grandmother who escaped Grenfell Tower said firefighters at the blaze were “betrayed” by their superiors, urging brigades to abandon “stay-put” advice until buildings are made safe.

Rukayetu Mamudu, who recently turned 70, and her grandson Tyrshondre, then 12, were some of the first survivors to escape the fire in the early hours of June 14.

Mrs Mamudu said firefighters passed their betrayal on to the 71 people that died that night but they should not feel guilty as they were “let down by the system”.

Tower block fire in London Credit: Tower block fire in London

Speaking ahead of the one-year anniversary of the June 14 blaze, she warned that closure will not be an option for survivors and the bereaved until those responsible apologise.

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She told the Press Association: “You cannot now advise people ‘go back and stay in your flat’ because you don’t know what the building is made of.

“That is exactly what happened in this scenario.

“People were trusting the firefighters’ words. And the firefighters relied on the system.

MEMORIAL Grenfell Credit: (PA Graphics)

“The system should never have deceived them.

“The system let them down.

“They are coming out to do their daily jobs without knowing they had been betrayed.

“And it’s a betrayal they passed to their victims.

“‘Go back to your flat, lock your door, put blankets under your window, you will be safer there than here’. They were roasted alive.

“I will tell them if there’s anybody running from fire, because they are not sure what the building is made of, because of all the pack of lies, just let them go out.

“Until they are sure that all the buildings are well secured, there are fire sprinklers, etcetera, then they can give that advice.”

Recalling the night of the fire, Mrs Mamudu described being woken by God before carrying her grandson through the “gushing” smoke, wearing just her pyjamas and slippers.

Tower block fire in London Credit: Tower block fire in London

She then watched the tower burn for six hours, while Tyrshondre slept in her lap.

“Seventy-two people,” she said. A long sigh followed.

“The question I keep asking is: who certified that building habitable? How did they get to a conclusion that people could live in a house without sprinklers, no fire alarm, no fire escape?

“Even now, in the middle of the night I wake up and say ‘gosh, did that place really burn?’. This is the 21st Century, this is Great Britain. Why?

“Nobody still is able to answer that ‘why’. They’re pushing blame, pointing fingers, because they all knew what they did was wrong.

“Nobody wants to account for anything. Justice has to be done. Somebody has to take responsibility.”

She added: “Until somebody comes out to say exactly what they have done and apologise there can never be closure.”