Grenfell Tower inqury: kitchen fire resident ‘did nothing wrong’

Behailu Kebede, occupant in whose flat the blaze erupted, was media scapegoat, says QC

Behailu Kebede, in whose Grenfell Tower flat the fire broke out, has been scapegoated by the media and wrongly blamed for failing to raise the alarm, the inquiry into the blaze has been told.

On the 10th day of its hearings, Rajiv Menon QC, representing Kebede, gave a detailed account of events in the early hours of 14 June last year when the fire started in his kitchen in flat 16.

Kebede, who is originally from Ethiopia and had lived in the tower for 25 years, was woken by a fire alarm. He immediately got up to find smoke coming from behind his Hotpoint fridge freezer. He did not see any flames.

“He grabbed his mobile phone and called 999,” said Menon. He had to ring several times before connecting to an operator. At the same time he banged on all his neighbours’ doors on the fourth floor, shouting that there was a fire. “He left the flat barefoot, without his flat or car keys.”

Related: The Grenfell firefighters are heroes. They don’t deserve a trial by media | Matt Wrack

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