London firefighters were met with applause and cheers as they left the site of the Grenfell Tower fire on Sunday. Some appeared to be moved to tears as they drove away from the scene, where many had been tirelessly working for the past five days. As the fire engines passed by crowds of people who had gathered for an open-air memorial service, they were met with a touching display of appreciation and gratitude from local residents for their extraordinary efforts battling the blaze. LBC reporter Vincent McAviney was at the scene, and captured the moment the visibly-moved firefighters were given their emotional send-off.
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London firefighters were applauded as they left the site of the Grenfell Tower fire
Around 250 firefighters rushed to Grenfell Tower in the early hours of Wednesday morning. London Fire Service Commissioner Dany Cotton said it was one of the worst incidents she had seen in her 29-year career. "I did a dynamic risk assessment and we knew we were going to be doing things that were not following our normal procedures," she told the Telegraph. "Had we just followed standard fire brigade procedures, we would not have been able to commit firefighters in and conduct the rescues we did. That's very difficult for me. I'm in charge of London fire brigade, and I was committing firefighters into something that was very unknown and very dangerous."
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London Fire Service Commissioner Dany Cotton said it was one of the worst incidents she had ever seen
She continued: "The assessment I made was that there was saveable life in that building at that time, and it was our job to go in. It was very difficult, it made me feel physically sick, looking at the building and knowing I had a hundred-plus firefighters in the building at any one time. There was a massive risk to my firefighters, but you balance that against the fact that you join London fire brigade to save people's lives. We wanted to save as many people as we could. That was the bottom line."
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The Met Police, meanwhile, has said the number of people killed in the fire is expected to increase from 58. Commander Stuart Cundy said an updated figure would be released on Monday. But he said the process of identifying victims would likely take weeks because of the conditions in the tower, which verge on the "indescribable".