A group of Muslims leaving Fajr prayers from the Masjid in East London last night risked their lives by running into a burning block tower, all the way to the top floor to rescue hundreds of people who were asleep.
At about 2.40am members of Madina Mosque, near the Lea Bridge roundabout, in Hackney, spotted a fire on the eighth floor of Gooch House on Kenninghall Road. And on instinct alone ran towards the building.
After forcibly entering the building they began banging on all the doors and sounding vocal alarms to wake everyone up. In what can only be described as a heroic move they went to the top floor first and starting working there way down from the 18th floor.
A local resident said “They made sure everyone got out. They knocked on each door until someone opened. There was six or seven of them and they were only young. If it wasn’t for them we would never have got out.”
Fortunately, for the residents, the unusual ‘community firefighting army’ was on the way back from morning prayers at Mosque. And because this is the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan the group was larger than usual.
Although they were fasting at the time, the group of worshipers ran up and down the stairs with a mission to wake everyone up, without any regard for their own safety. And thanks to their efforts, by the time 25 firefighters got there everyone had safely escaped.
Madina Mosque chair Mohammed Sidat said he was extremely proud and that it showed a side of Islam people didn’t always get to hear about.
A local resident said “They banged on our doors shouting: ‘Fire, fire, get out… We were obviously a bit confused at first, but I could smell it and hear the alarm going off in the upstairs flat (and leapt out of bed).
“They helped my mum downstairs while I took my wife and checked on an elderly resident on the first floor who is recovering from cancer.
“It was a really important show of community spirit. It shows there are still people willing to help others and risk their own life.”
The blaze, caused by a discarded cigarette, was brought under control within an hour. One man from the affected flat was treated for smoke inhalation, but there were no serious injuries.
Lea Bridge’s Cllr Ian Rathbone was alerted to the fire in the early hours. He said: “I want to congratulate those mosque users who bravely went and tackled the situation.
“They have demonstrated what it really means to be a good neighbour and think first about the lives and survival of others in those precious minutes of the start of a fire.”
The horror stories from the wake of the Grenfell disaster are still fresh in the minds of Londoners and although no casualties were recorded, the Mayor of London needs to act and reform the tower block structures to prevent another Grenfell disaster.