They banged on windows, screamed for help, dropped children from smoky floors in a desperate attempt to save them.
Rescue workers continued to search for survivors on Thursday a day after a deadly fire swept through a London high-rise, but officials admitted it would be a "miracle" if more people were found alive as the death toll rose to 17. A tenants' group had complained for years about the risk of a fire.
Their work is expected to last into Thursday, with drones also being used to search the building. As the heavy black smoke from the fire cleared Thursday, the huge burned-out hulk of Grenfell loomed over London's working-class, multi-ethnic North Kensington neighborhood. After announcing the updated death toll of 12 in the afternoon, Cmdr.
"We as the police have started an investigation, I mentioned when I was down at the scene this morning that one of our very senior investigating officers is leading that for us", the commander said.
Prime Minister Theresa May promised an investigation and she planned to visit the site on Thursday. FourMee said the singer's husband Simon Konecki was with her.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said a "great many questions" would be asked about the fire, which has been declared a "major incident". "Also, the fire escape plan for the building told residents to stay in their apartments behind supposedly fire safe doors".
A look at the photos and video of the inferno that claimed at least 17 lives shows why the cladding is a possible culprit: The flames can be seen "climbing" up the sides of the public housing building at an alarming pace, overwhelming efforts to limit the destruction. "I just said "thank you for being here, it really means a lot so us", he was really emotional". No one has said exactly where the fire started.
Fire officials said it took almost two hours to gain control of the massive fire. "It had completely spread within half an hour". She said she had lived on the 10th floor of the building for 31 years. Others tossed small children.
Fears grew for others, such as Bassem Choukeir, his wife Nadia, her mother Sariyya and the couple's three daughters Mirna, Fatmeh and Zaynab.
Ray Bailey - managing director at Harley Facades, which has since gone into administration - said the company was "not aware of any link between the fire and the exterior cladding to the tower". She and her grandson sat outside the building, helplessly watching those trapped on higher floors.
Seventeen of the 37 people hospitalized remained in critical condition. "We like to think of ourselves as "roughty, toughty" and heroes - they are heroes - but they have feelings, and people were absolutely devastated by yesterday's events". "They couldn't stop the fire". And sometimes words fail us because no words can do justice to how we feel, or what we have seen or what has happened.
There were questions about why there was no sprinkler system in the Grenfell Tower which could have helped stop the fire spreading, or any central smoke alarm system that would have woken sleeping residents. "We are getting a larger number of high-rise residential buildings".
"I'm lucky to be alive".
The officer, called Mick, tweeted a picture of his yellow helmet with his name and the code A33 written on it in permanent marker alongside the caption: 'You know it's not going to be good when your told to write your name on you helmet before you go in'. "I consider this mass murder". In a November 20 blog, the group predicted that only "a catastrophic event" leading to "serious loss of life" would bring the outside scrutiny needed to make conditions safe for residents. "We're talking weeks, we're talking months", he said.
Management of the tower was passed from the council to the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation in 1996 after the tenants and leaseholders voted to manage their own homes.
Rydon chief executive Robert Bond said: "I will do all I can to assist in this investigation in order to establish what caused this tragedy".
Britain's government ordered checks at tower blocks going through similar refurbishment amid concerns that renovations at the Grenfell Tower contributed to the spread of the blaze. The system was installed to improve the thermal efficiency of the building and improve its appearance.
London Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said there were still "unknown numbers of people" inside the block.
He said that he and a parliamentary group that he chairs have been pushing for better safety regulations since the 2009 fire.