A MUM and four young children died after a suspected arson attack destroyed their Essex home today.According to the Sun ;Two sons Sohaib, 11, Rayan, six, daughter Hira, 13, and their doctor mother Sabah Usmani were declared dead after being pulled from the inferno.
Third son Muneeb, nine, died later in hospital; his three-year-old sister Maheen remains in a critical condition.Mrs Usmani’s doctor husband Abdul Shakour survived the blaze in Barn Mead, Harlow with minor injuries.
Chief fire officer David Johnson said the fire, which started downstairs while the family were asleep upstairs, had developed rapidly – suggesting some kind of fuel may have been used.
It is understood Dr Shakour was inside the house when the blaze started but had escaped by the time firefighters arrived.He is not currently being treated as a suspect, police said.
Mr Johnson added: “Firefighters arrived to find harrowing scenes and did everything they could to save the family.”
Dr Shakour’s friend Parvez Hamid, 43, visited the scene this morning to lay flowers and pay tribute to the “model family”.He said “The family were amazing. They had only been living here for a while but in that time our two families became very close.“Our kids used to play together and I always used to say how well-behaved and polite they were. They were the model family. “Abdul is a doctor and very academic. I’ve heard he jumped from a top storey to raise the alarm which sounds like him as he is that sort of person.“He is very heroic – he and his wife adored their children and would do anything for them. “What has happened is terrible. My wife has been in tears all morning as she was best friends with her. The family are in our prayers.”
Police said a car was also found alight a short distance from the house; that fire is also being treated as arson.Fire crews were called out at 1.45am.
Neighbour Amanda Chadwick, 34, says she was awoken in the early hours by “horrible screaming” in the house. She said: “I woke up about half one this morning to the sound of a woman screaming ‘Help’.“There was a man, also, he sounded like he was calling out to find someone but I couldn’t make out the names.“It was absolutely horrible – before I knew it there were blue lights flashing and an ambulance arrived.”It’s an absolute tragedy.”Firefighters found the house “100 per cent well alight”, with flames erupting from the front and back doors.
Assistant divisional officer Steve Foster, incident commander, said: “Crews arriving at the scene did everything they could. They were faced with a rapidly-developed fire and went straight into the burning building wearing breathing apparatus to bring people out as quickly as possible. “Once casualties were out, they worked alongside ambulance teams to do all they could.“Fire investigation teams are now working with police to establish how this tragedy happened and our thoughts are with those the family left behind.”
A spokeswoman for the service said: “We understand that firefighters brought them out of the house and were doing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) outside, and that they were confirmed dead at the scene.“The incident is now in the hands of Essex Police.”
A police statement said: “The cause of the fire is under ivestigation. Detectives are looking at the circumstances leading up to the fire, and ask that anyone who was in the area of Barn Mead in the early hours of Monday and has any information contacts Harlow police station on 101.” A joint police and fire service investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the blaze.
Gary Sanderson, spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “First and foremost our thoughts are with the family and friends of all involved in this tragic incident this morning. “Following a rapid scene assessment by the first clinician on scene, our trust declared a major incident due to the severity of the incident.
“Ambulance crews worked extremely hard alongside the fire service to treat a total of seven casualties – two adults and five children – who were all conveyed to Princess Alexandra Hospital.”