‘It was sim­ple: es­cape, or stay and die’

Best - - BEST FOR AWARDS - says FARHAD NEDA

The blaze that broke out at Gren­fell Tower in London on 14 June this year is etched in the minds and mem­o­ries of wit­nesses.

But for those stranded in­side the burn­ing block of flats, the trauma of the fire – which claimed up to 80 lives – will stay with them for ever.

One man, our best Hero, Farhad Neda, was trapped on the 23rd floor with his mum and dad. Very few peo­ple es­caped from the up­per floors.

But this dar­ing and brave young man car­ried his dis­abled mother down 24 flights of stairs to safety.

Farhad, 24, a me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ate, says mod­estly, ‘I don’t think of my­self as a hero. I don’t feel brave that I car­ried Mum down the stairs. It was sim­ple: give it a go, es­cape, or stay here and die.’

The first Farhad knew about the fire on that fate­ful night was when his mum, Flora, 55, smelt burn­ing.

‘ We didn’t think much of it, be­cause the fire alarms weren’t go­ing off,’ he says.

‘I called the emer­gency line and they told me that they had an en­gi­neer on the way. But then we saw our neigh­bours from down­stairs bang­ing on the doors, telling ev­ery­one to get out. They said, “There’s a fire, and there’s no way out.”

‘There were signs next to the lift say­ing to stay put,’ con­tin­ues Farhad.

Still in­side the flat, they tele­phoned other neigh­bours who had al­ready es­caped.

‘They were right next to the fire bri­gade, and I asked them, “What are they in­struct­ing us to do?” They just kept say­ing, “They’re on their way up. They’ll come and get you. Stay in your flats.”’

But when flames be­gan lick­ing the win­dows and the be­d­room caught alight, Farhad’s mum threat­ened to jump from the win­dow. She was ter­ri­fied of burn­ing alive. Farhad grabbed her and went into the smoke-filled hall­way.

‘ We thought we were 100 per cent dead at that stage,’ he re­calls. ‘There was so much smoke that I didn’t let go of Mum. If I had, I wouldn’t have been able to find her again.’

Flora tried to per­suade her hus­band, Saber, 57, to go with them. The last thing she re­mem­bers is him say­ing, ‘I’m be­hind you.’

Farhad is con­vinced his dad stayed be­hind to help other neigh­bours. He says, ‘Four ladies had come into our flat, and Dad wanted to help them get out as well. He wouldn’t have left any­one be­hind.’

In the hall­way, the pair faced a ter­ri­fy­ing scene. Flora suf­fers from a mus­cu­lar con­di­tion called myas­the­nia gravis and, know­ing she could never man­age the stairs, Farhad hoisted her on to his shoul­ders.

‘ We lit­er­ally couldn’t see any­thing. When you got down to a cer­tain level, you were gasp­ing. There was thick smoke ev­ery­where.’ Then, sud­denly, a mir­a­cle… ‘ We saw the door to one

Gren­fell in the af­ter­math Dad Saber lost his life

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