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The first confirmed victim of the Granfell fire was a Syrian refugee Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

The first confirmed victim of the Granfell fire was a Syrian refugee

The response to the tragic fire has been a major outpouring of charity [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 June, 2017

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The local Syrian community held a vigil for the 24 year old student, who was granted asylum in the UK after fleeing Daraa three years ago.

The first victim of the Grenfell tower block fire in west London has been identified as a Syrian refugee.

Mohammed al-Haj Ali, a civil engineering student at the University of West London, fled his hometown of Daraa in Syria three years ago and was granted asylum in the UK.

"He survived Assad, the war in Syria, only to die in a tower block in London. There are no words," Abdulaziz al-Mashi, a friend of the family, told the Telegraph.

The local Syrian community held a vigil to remember their friend on Wednesday night.

One person wrote the message: "You are in our hearts Mohammad al-Hajali, wherever you may be".

Initial reports suggest that al-Haj Ali, 24, tried to escape his flat on the fourteenth floor of the tower block via the emergency staircase, but became trapped by smoke.

He initially fled with his brother, Omar, before returning back to their flat alone. Omar is believed to have survived the fire and is now being treated in hospital for smoke inhalation.

Firefighters were not able to reach him, as they were not able to go further than the thirteenth floor.

Investigators said on Wednesday they do not want to speculate into the cause of the fire.

London Fire Brigade commissioner Dany Cotton said: "As you will appreciate, this is a completely unprecedented fire.

"In my 29 years in the London Fire Brigade, I have never seen a fire of this nature, and I have seen many high-rise fires."

One seasoned press photographer who witnessed the blaze said it was one of the most violent scenes he had ever witnessed.

"I have covered Lockerbie and the Troubles and Bosnia and various wars over the years. They are all bad, but this is one of the worst because it was such devastation. I could feel the heat from the fire. I could feel things raining down on me."

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