AN EMOTIONAL firefighter told the Grenfell Tower blaze inquiry ‘it all started going wrong’ as he searched in vain for a girl on the 20th floor.
Christopher Secrett said he and his colleagues had been unable to keep in touch by radio with superiors based at a bridgehead on the second floor.
He took a long pause, explaining he had felt ‘a little wave’ of emotion, then added: ‘To a point we had a complete disconnection from the outside world.’
While he and colleague David Badillo searched a flat, Mr Secrett’s warning whistle for oxygen sounded.
‘In normal circumstances if your whistle goes off you’ve got 12 minutes of air remaining at a rate of 50 litres per minute,’ he told the hearing. ‘I don’t know what my breathing rate was but I imagine it was a lot more than that. It all started going wrong for us all at once — we couldn’t find who we were looking for, my air was running out, it was like, “Let’s get out of here”.
‘At that point I was very unsure whether we were going to get out or not. We had no way of communicating that back to the bridgehead.’
Mr Secrett, a crew manager based at North Kensington fire station in west London, said the temperature rapidly spiked and he thought the team had all been suffering from heat stress.
He eventually collapsed in the staircase — the only escape route.
‘My legs were wobbly from exhaustion,’ he said. Mr Secrett and Mr Badillo were pulled to safety when a third firefighter, Chris Dorgu, reappeared.
Earlier during the inquiry at Holborn Bars in central London, Mr Secrett sobbed uncontrollably when asked about the moment he realised the blaze had almost engulfed the building.
He was thanked by chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick for his bravery on June 14 last year.
Sir Martin said: ‘I would just like to say that I’ve been very impressed listening to your account this morning and the degree of bravery you demonstrated on that night and complete disregard, it seems to me, for your personal safety.’
The inquiry continues into the blaze at the North Kensington tower block, in which 72 people died.