The city of London witnessed a horrific sight on Tuesday night when a 24 story building caught fire in one of the richest areas of the city. Grenfell Tower transformed from a peaceful apartment building to a tower of inferno when a fire broke out on the 4th floor of the building and quickly rose through the upper floors of the 120 apartment building.
Sajad Jamalvatan, a 22-year old biomedical engineering student, received a call from his mother when he was at the movies begging him to come quickly. He recalls that as soon as he arrived, people were pointing up and shouting that someone is jumping. He estimates that the person jumped from the 16th or 17th floor.
The death toll reached at least 12 while CNN reported 17. Dozens more have been injured and many are in the hospital under critical conditions.
Witnesses recalled a mother dropping her infant off the balcony and many kids relentlessly banging on the windows before a cloud of smoke engulfed them. Sajad recalls that the fire went up the floors quickly from the initial 10 flats that were on fire. He says that the alarm was not triggered and people did not know that the building was on fire.
Ahmed Chellat, a retired community worker, was at a community center desperately looking for his brother-in-law and his family who lived on the 21st floor of the building. He received a call from the wife of his brother-in-law at around 1:45 a.m. who told him that they were told to stay put. This happens only when there is a surety that the firemen would come to the aid of the family trapped. He called her back around 30 minutes later inquiring why she wasn’t out yet and she told him that they were asking them to stay inside covering the doors with towels. The last thing she said was that the smoke was coming heavily into the flat.
It is in the darkest hours of time and during tragedy when we see the best in humanity. London proved that as many citizens came to the aid of the people who were rescued in community centers. They brought along food, clothing and offered shelter.