One of the first firefighters to reach the Grenfell Tower blaze revealed he will forever be haunted by the faces of trapped children that he was unable to save. In a harrowing account, Damian Magee told how he looked up at kids with faces pressed against windows and banging the glass for help.

“They were looking down at me like I was a superhero who had arrived to save them,” Damian told the Sunday People. “But we couldn’t reach them. The horror of what I saw will stay with me for the rest of my life … It was like a war zone. There were huge clumps of concrete, composite materials, metal, all sorts of cladding, all crashing around the four sides of the building.

Damian’s crew sprinted half a mile through a traffic jam to get to the inferno, before ditching their breathing apparatus to climb as high as the ninth floor. The 20-year veteran, who carried five people to safety, broke down in tears as he said: “These little boys were looking at me when I turned up in my superhero outfit, but I knew we couldn’t save them.”