I ate porridge to stay calm: Grenfell resident describes his all-night wait for rescue

3 October 2018, 16:00 | Updated: 3 October 2018, 19:00

A Grenfell resident who remained in his flat as the tower burned has described eating porridge to keep calm - and calling his boss to say he would not be at work the next day.

Antonio Roncolato, who lived on the 10th floor, was woken by a phone call from his son, who said: "I love you Pappy, get out."

But when he tried to leave he was met with "very strong and black" smoke that made it impossible to breathe.

Forced to return to his flat, he spent the night calmly battling more smoke as it poured in through the windows.

The testimony was revealed on the first day of survivor evidence of the night of the fire.

Inquiry chairman Sir Martin Moore-Bick says the testimonies, the first from survivors since tributes to the 72 victims were heard in May, will be treated as "integral evidence".

For the last three months, proceedings have focused on accounts of members of London Fire Brigade, who gave evidence on battling a blaze more ferocious and unpredictable than anything they had seen before.

Sir Martin praised the "careful" evidence of Mr Roncolato, which he said reflected the way he had approached the "terrible circumstances" of the fire.

The survivor said that fire officials had told him to stay put, but he had made an attempt to escape after being "stunned" by a photograph his son, Christopher, sent him of the burning building.

"I knew that one mistake would be fatal," he said.

After being forced back by the deadly smoke, Mr Roncolato stayed in his flat for throughout the blaze, constantly checking for signs of smoke, trying to remain calm and placing wet towels and sheets around the window ledges.

"I then decided to eat the porridge that I had prepared for breakfast as I waited to be rescued," he said.

"This was to keep my energy levels up, so I would be ready when the time came to leave."

Mr Roncolato was eventually rescued shortly after 5.46am - the second-from-last person to leave the tower alive.

After his testimony the inquiry, which was attended by therapists and trauma teams, heard from Marina Fatima Alves who escaped from the 13th floor.

Mrs Alves and her husband took the lift as they came home from dinner at around 1am on the night of the fire, but noticed smoke in the stairwells and decided to fetch their children and leave the building.

Her family were told to stay in the flat but decided to leave, she said.

She still struggles with the guilt she feels at surviving the fire that killed many of her neighbours.

"I could see people waving, then a sudden flash of lightning behind them and they would disappear. It was terrifying to watch," she said.

"The whole night was like a horror film which I couldn't believe was happening, and I still can't believe it happened."

The inquiry continues on Thursday.