Muslims who were awake because they were beginning their Ramadan fast “saved people’s lives” when a deadly blaze broke out at a west London tower block, HuffPost UK has been told.
At least 50 people have been taken to five hospitals for treatment as hundreds of residents in the 27-storey, 120 flat, Grenfell Tower in north Kensington have been evacuated from their flats in the building that caught fire just after 1.15am.
A local woman told HuffPost UK: “Muslim boys saved people’s lives. They ran around knocking on people’s doors. Thank God for Ramadan”
Khalid Suleman Ahmed, 20, recently moved to Grenfell Tower with his auntie and lives on the eighth floor.
He said he would not normally have been up in the middle of the night but had stayed up during Ramadan for Suhur, the meal before Muslims begin fasting again during daylight hours.
However, upon realising there was a fire he immediately began banging on his neighbours’ doors to wake them.
He told HuffPost UK: “No fire alarms went off and there were no warning. I was playing PlayStation waiting to eat suhuur (beginning of fast meal) then smelt smoke. I got up and looked out of my window and saw the seventh floor smoking.
“I woke my auntie up, then got clothes on and started knocking on neighbours’ doors. Every house opened except two - I saw the other guy later on so only 1 family unaccounted for. My next door neighbour was fast asleep.
“The whole corridor went black with thick smoke. I didn’t think it was serious at all me and my auntie thought it was an isolated incident but we’d just evacuate just to be safe. When we went out and were taken by the firemen to a safer place then we saw that it still hadn’t reached our house - 20 minutes or so later our house was gone. The firefighters were very quick. They immediately started work.
“People were calm walking out but when they realised loved ones were missing or unaccounted then they started to panic. Once we were outside it started to spread more.
He added: “I would be up this late on a Friday night possibly but never a random midweek night unless it was Ramadan. There are a lot of Muslims living there and people choose up to stay up and wait so it was certainly a factor for me and others. It probably did save lives.”
A witness also told Sky News that Muslims who were awake had been a “lifeline”.
A number of Islamic cultural centres and mosques also opened their doors to help those affected.
And members of this Muslim charity also arrived to help
Other faith groups also got involved too.
A local church offered people a place to shelter and collected items for those affected
As well as local Sikh temples
Police said a “number of people are being treated for a range of injuries”, including two for smoke inhalation, as pictures from the scene showed flames engulfing most of the block on the Lancaster West Estate, north Kensington.
More than 200 firefighters and 40 engines are in attendance.
The Met Police has set up a helpline for anyone concerned for their loved ones on 0800 0961 233.