The extensive damage is seen to the Grenfell Tower block that was destroyed in a fire disaster, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 15, 2017.
The extensive damage is seen to the Grenfell Tower block that was destroyed in a fire disaster, in north Kensington, West London, Britain June 15, 2017. Reuters/Peter Nicholls

The Grenfell Tower fire is said to be started by a cab driver whose refrigerator exploded. According to reports, cab driver Behailu Kebede was woken by a loud bang when the fridge-freezer at his number 16 on the fourth floor flat blew up.

He suspected the noise was created by an electrical fault in his fridge, which ignited and started spreading fire in his kitchen. He quickly ran to hallway and banged on his neighbours’ doors to wake and warn them about the fire.

Maryann Adam, who lived at number 14, told the Daily Mail that Kebede woke her before 1 a.m. to tell her there was a fire in his kitchen. “He knocked on the door, and he said there was a fire in his flat. It was exactly 12:50 a.m. because I was sleeping and it woke me up,” she said. “The fire was small in the kitchen. I could see it because the flat door was open. There was no alarm.”

Another neighbour, Mahad Egal, said he became aware of the fire when the 44-old Kebede, who was a refugee from Ethiopia, knocked on his door. He wrapped some wet towels around his kids’ heads to protect them before they ran.

Kebede was able to flee into safety himself. Adam said she saw he was able to prepare a bag of clothes before he could run.

Aalya Moses said Kebede alerted everyone on their floor and the surrounding floors about the fire. If Kebede hadn’t banged on their doors, they wouldn’t have known there was a raging inferno about to consume the whole building because the fire alarms didn’t go off and there were no sprinklers to douse it.

A friend who spoke to Kebede following the West London building blaze on early Wednesday morning told The Sun that Kebede is ridden with guilt over what happened. He didn’t know the extent of the damage that the electrical malfunction in his flat would generate.

“He has lived there for years and can’t cope because he knows so many of the dead and missing. He spoke about a girl and a black cab driver mate who haven’t been heard of since the fire, then he got very emotional. He had no idea the whole block would be destroyed with so many people trapped inside,” the friend said.

“He’s a gentleman with a soft heart. I’ve known him for years and I know this will be tearing him apart. He kept repeating over and over again, ‘People have lost their lives, I can’t bear it.’ He’ll be blaming himself even though there was nothing he could do – and he had no way of knowing the block was a death trap.”

The friend added that the police advised Kebede not to talk about the fire outbreak in his kitchen. And so when asked by The Sun, Kebede only replied, “I’m not saying anything. I’m too busy with everything.”

Firefighters were alerted at 12:54 a.m. and arrived within six minutes. However, the blaze had spread outside the building and onto the other floors. Officials said there would be an investigation, although it is highly speculated that the building’s cladding may have accelerated the spread of the fire.

The fire left at least 17 people dead and dozens injured. It is feared that the death toll will rise above a hundred as many people are still unaccounted for. British Prime Minister Theresa May has since ordered a full public inquiry into the incident.

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