‘We’re lucky to be alive after firebombing’, say east London flatmates
The victims of a firebomb attack say they felt “lucky to be alive” as Scotland Yard stepped up its investigation into what it is treating as a transphobic hate crime.
Three flatmates made it out of their fifth floor flat with only seconds to spare as flames and smoke engulfed the block on Whitechapel High Street.
The arsonist struck at 6.15am on April 14 with firefighters battling the flames for almost an hour. Harper Celeste, 26, a transgender freelance stylist who has worked with celebrities including Boy George and actress Yasmin Finney, said she was “horrified” that her home had been targeted in the transphobic attack.
The firebombing also hit her livelihood as there were £35,000 of clothes in the flat which were being prepared for a fashion shoot. Harper said: “The first we knew of the fire there was a crackling from the heat and then the windows exploded, it was like a bomb going off.
“I honestly think we are lucky to be alive. Whoever did this would have known we would be in bed, we could easily have died.”
The flatmates have been unable to return home and lost many possessions. Harper said: “I had £35,000 of clothes for a fashion shoot in there. They weren’t mine, they were a client’s for a job. It’s a nightmare. I don’t know what I am going to do. This attacker has robbed us of our home and livelihoods. We worked from home as well as lived there. We have lost everything.”
She said her flatmates were both shaken by the attack. She added: “People are rallying around to help us though and we would like to thank them all so much.”
Detectives have been trawling through CCTV footage from around the flat block as they hunt for the attacker.
A GoFundMe has been set up to raise money for the flatmates as they attempt to piece their lives back together. It has so far raised £17,000 and will be used to help replace their destroyed belongings.
To donate go to gofundme.com/f/urgent-help-following-arson-attack