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Man who fled Honduras violence left homeless after suspected arson attack in Hackney

An asylum seeker who fled gang violence in Honduras has been left homeless and unable to work after his documents were destroyed in a suspected arson attack in Hackney.

Yefrin Zepeda, 29, lost the few possessions he had when a fire tore through the ground floor and first floor of a three-storey house on Newick Road on Wednesday.

Detectives are waiting to quiz a man in his sixties who was arrested on suspicion of an arson attack as he recovers in hospital from minor injuries sustained in the incident.

Investigators are working to establish if the attack in Hackney was linked to antisemitism.

Yefrin Zepeda lost his possessions in a suspected arson attack in Hackney (Yefrin Zepeda)
Yefrin Zepeda lost his possessions in a suspected arson attack in Hackney (Yefrin Zepeda)

Mr Zepeda told the Standard he had returned from lunch with friends and saw his room in flames.

The asylum seeker lost all his official documents from the Home Office in the fire as well as the clothes and money he had.

He said: “I feel very depressed, to the point where I don’t know which way to go. Unfortunately, I don’t have a family here, I lived alone without any help and now it’s like starting from scratch.

“I arrived in this country for political asylum. Due to that process, and because of my legal status, I did not qualify according to the council for benefits.

“The council has not solved anything for me and denied me my request for a temporary home. I’m very worried since I’m trying to find a home to stay and I’m not lucky.

“Now I have nothing in my pocket since the little money I had burned in the fire.”

Mr Zepeda stayed a night in a Travelodge after the incident and is now staying with friends nearby in Haggerston while he searches for somewhere to go.

Maria Camila Manzano, who Mr Zepeda is staying with, added: “The police said to him ‘Practically you are no one here as you have got no identification so we can not guarantee anything’.”

The 22-year-old said: “He is now homeless with nowhere to go, with no money, he is not allowed to work and he is just in the streets.”

The attack on the Hackney home, left the suspect and three others injured.

Sixty firefighters were scrambled to the property at just after 12.40pm on Wednesday. Dramatic footage showed flames shooting from the terraced house and smoke filling the street.

Firefighters used a 32-metre turntable ladder as a water tower and the fire was under control by 3.28pm.

The London fire Brigade has launched an investigation and experts will be trawling through the charred remains of the house for evidence.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Mr Zepeda.

A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “We’re very sorry to hear about the situation Mr Zepeda finds himself in.

“We provided emergency hotel accommodation for Mr Zepeda after the fire, however Mr Zepeda is in the process of claiming asylum, which means he legally does not have a right to certain benefits or housing assistance from local authorities.

“As a Council, we are therefore legally not able to provide further housing assistance to him. If someone seeking asylum did access housing support from us, it could result in the Home Office ending their permission to stay in the country or refusing a future application.

“Staff from our homeless hub spoke to Mr Zepeda yesterday and advised him to contact the Honduran embassy and the British Red Cross for assistance.

“We’ve also contacted the Home Office to try to establish whether Mr Zepeda was living in Home Office provided accommodation, as the Home Office would be required to provide alternative accommodation if that was the case.”