My son would probably be alive if I hadn’t listened to fire brigade, says father

Paulos Tekle with his son, Isaac Paulos (Grenfell Tower inquiry/PA) Credit: Press Association Images

The father of a five-year-old who died in the Grenfell Tower fire has said his son would probably be alive had he not followed the advice of emergency services who advised him to stay put.

Paulos Tekle, whose son Isaac Paulos died, said he was plagued with guilt over listening to the authorities instead of fleeing the building as his neighbours begged him to get out.

Revealing how the pain of his loss had left him feeling dead, the distraught father sobbed as he told of how only truth and justice would be able to make him whole again.

Mr Tekle said: “I want the truth. I will not have peace until I have the truth. I want to know why I was physically stopped from leaving the flat at about 2am.

“Why we were kept inside for so long? I want answers. If I had not listened to the fire brigade my son would have likely been alive today.”

He added: “I will have to live with the guilt of not protecting my son every day. I am broken, and now the only thing that can make me whole again is to fight for truth and justice in Isaac’s name and for my living son and for their mother.”

Mr Tekle said he kept ringing the fire brigade, who repeatedly told the family to stay put even as neighbours were calling them, telling them to get out.

At around 2am a firefighter at the door told them again to stay in the 18th-floor flat, and 45 minutes went by before they were advised to leave.

Mr Tekle went on: “But every day I ask myself the same question: what if I had not listened and we had left right then and there? My Isaac would be here today? I will not be sitting here telling you about my boy and our pain?

“I should not be sitting here telling you this testimony, we could have escaped and I am living with the trauma of asking myself this question over and over again.”

Tower block fire in London Credit: Grenfell Tower fire victim Isaac Paulos

Isaac – the eldest of his two little boys – was a “beautiful little boy, with so much potential”.

Mr Tekle said he would never forget the “big beautiful eyes” of his little man, who he said he had “so many plans” for.

The youngster loved school, Taekwondo and swimming, he recalled, while teachers spoke of how the outdoor park was his favourite place.

He went on: “But we will never know what was in store for Isaac. Just as in the Bible, God tested Abraham’s faith by ordering him to sacrifice his son Isaac, but an angel prevented the act in the last minute. For us, there was no last minute. There was no last-minute angel.

“Isaac, my little boy, was sacrificed? Why?”

Describing the pain, he said: “I feel as if my head has been cut off, I feel as if I am dead.”