LONDON — Early Wednesday morning, a 24-story high-rise in London caught fire, killing at least 12 people and injuring dozens more.
Most people were asleep when the fire broke out, but Muslims awake early for Ramadan helped usher people out of the building.
Residents reported that fire alarms didn’t go off when the fire broke out at Grenfell Tower in north Kensington around 1 a.m., but some Muslim residents were up for suhoor, the pre-dawn meal eaten early in the morning before fasting until sunset during the month of Ramadan.
When they noticed something was wrong, they began waking up their neighbors. 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, a 20-year-old who lived in the building with his aunt, told HuffPost UK he was up waiting to eat suhoor when he saw smoke coming from the floor below him.
“I woke my auntie up, then got clothes on and started knocking on neighbors’ doors,” he said. “Every house opened except two — I saw the other guy later on so only one family unaccounted for. My next door neighbor was fast asleep.”
He said he and his aunt didn’t know how big the fire was, but thought they better evacuate just to be safe. When they got outside, the fire hadn’t yet reached their apartment, but he said it was engulfed in flames about 20 minutes later.
Suleman Ahmed explained that he wouldn’t have been up that late on a weeknight if it weren’t 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,” he told HuffPost UK. Another local, Andre Barroso, told The Independent that Muslims were also providing food and clothes to those evacuating.
“Everybody was hands on,” Barroso told The Independent. “It was wonderful to see everyone come together.”