Students Fundraising for ‘Much-Loved’ Armenian Lecturer Who Escaped Grenfell Tower Fire  

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LONDON (Tert.am) — Kind-hearted students have started a fundraising page for a Croydon lecturer who lived in the Grenfell Tower and lost of all his possessions, including research for his PhD, in the deadly fire which broke out on June 14.

Mesrob Kassemdjian, an ethnic Armenian known as Robbie to his students, managed to escape his 17th floor flat with his girlfriend and elderly auntie before the fire engulfed the building.

The death toll stands at 79 now and is expected to rise.

The teacher of criminology at University Centre Croydon (UCC), based at Croydon College, watched as the building “caught fire like a candle.”

Now, his students, who describe Kassemdjian as “much-loved” are trying to collect £1,500 for him to replace his extensive book collection, laptop and equipment he used to teach and for research into his PhD, which were all lost in the blaze.

On the JustGiving website, one of the organizers of the fundraiser wrote: “We want to try raise money for Robbie so that he can replace these things in order to carry on learning, teaching and researching. If you can make a contribution to help Robbie get back on his feet please do, any contributions will be greatly appreciated.”

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Kassemdjian said he was watching a movie when he heard the sirens of the fire trucks, and says he didn’t hear any fire alarms going off.

Speaking outside the tower block on the American “Today” program earlier this week, he said: “I went outside to check the lifts to see if there was any activity. It seemed quiet but I smelt the smoke.

“I went inside and looked out the window and I could see the flames coming out from beneath.

“I woke up my auntie and with the help of my girlfriend we moved fast so that we could move slowly down the stairs. I tried to warn my neighbor. Him and his wife were right behind us by a couple of minutes.”

He said “chaos” broke out behind them on the stairwell and he felt like they were minutes away from “real disaster.”

He added: “When we got outside the initial fire that I saw underneath me, by the time we got down, which took about 10 to 12 minutes, had risen along the whole length of the building.

“The building caught fire like a candle. We were outside and looking up and we could see people inside waving at us.

“We were telling them to come down but they were waving back which makes me feel like maybe they couldn’t because there was already smoke when we were going down the stairwell but maybe the smoke got worse and people were scared to take the risk of I suppose suffocation.

“I don’t know everybody in the building by name but we know each other by face. We see each other every day, everyone in the building is really nice.

“It’s full of families and children and I’ve seen a lot of people, I’m so happy to see them, we’ve all come together but there’s a lot of people I haven’t seen either. I don’t want to think the worst but it’s really worrying.”

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