A firefighter has told the harrowing story of how he had to make an impossible decision on the 20th floor of Grenfell Tower as fire ripped through the building and smoke engulfed him and his partner. Finding a couple struggling to breathe on the “19th or 20th floor”, he describes how he had to choose whether to save them or go on upstairs to the “five people” desperately wanting to be rescued on the floor above.

The hero shared his story on the Facebook page ‘Save the UK Fire Service’, who published it anonymously; the emotional account has brought many people to tears. ¬†After running with heavy equipment from four or five streets away, the firefighter was told to head up to the 23rd floor of the 24-storey building, weighed down by more than 30kg of equipment and breathing apparatus.

When he had climbed high up into the building, he was forced to make the ‘horrible’ decision. “We found a couple trying to find their way out, panicking, choking, blinded by the thick toxic air … the couple were shouting and screaming at us through the coughing, trying to tell us there were five more people on the floor above.” The anonymous firefighter and his partner made the decision to rescue the couple, struggling out, undoubtedly saving their lives, but not knowing what happened to the five people left in the tower.

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