Tuesday 20 February 2018

Video: Father devastated as fifth child dies after fire in which wife also perished

Essex Police Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson speaking at the press conference at Essex police headquarters in Chelmsford, Essex regarding the fatal house fire in Barn Mead, Harlow, Essex
Essex Police Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson speaking at the press conference at Essex police headquarters in Chelmsford, Essex regarding the fatal house fire in Barn Mead, Harlow, Essex
Police at the scene following a fire at Barn Mead in Harlow Essex, where woman and three young children died and two other people are in hospital after a house fire. Photo: PA
The scene following a fire at Barn Mead in Harlow Essex

Ben Kendall and Jennifer Cockerell

A DOCTOR was facing life without his wife and all five of his children today after his three-year-old daughter lost her fight for life following a devastating house fire.

Maheen Shakoor had been in a critical condition in the burns units at the Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford since being transferred there after the blaze in Harlow, Essex.



Her mother, Dr Sabah Usmani, brothers Sohaib, 11, Muneeb, 9, and Rayyan, six, and 12-year-old sister Hira died in their end-of-terrace house in Barn Mead in the early hours of Monday.



Her father Abdul Shakoor, also a doctor, suffered minor injuries as he fought to rescue his family from the blaze.



But a spokesman for the Princess Alexandra Hospital, where Dr Shakoor worked and where Maheen was initially taken, said the girl had also died.



He said: "On behalf of all our staff at Princess Alexandra Hospital, we extend our deepest sympathy to Dr Shakoor.



"All of us have been saddened by this tragedy and as a close-knit hospital community, many of us know Dr Shakoor and have been overwhelmed by what has happened.



"Our book of condolence, which is available for staff to sign in our hospital, is being filled with the most heartfelt and genuine messages which are truly humbling.



"Our thoughts and our prayers are with our dear friend and colleague."



Essex Police initially treated the blaze as a suspected arson attack but no trace of an accelerant used to spark the flames has so far been found.



Although officers are continuing to investigate all possibilities it is now thought "increasingly likely" the fire was a tragic accident.



Yesterday results of tests carried out at the scene were released showing that the fire started in the lounge at the rear of the property.



Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson said: "We know already from the fire service and our own findings that temperatures would have been extremely high, with thick toxic smoke permeating the house.



"Initial indications show that the fire appears to have taken hold in the lounge area, which is at the rear of the property. The ferocity of the blaze has made the forensic work more challenging."



A mound of floral tributes has been left near the family home and friends and neighbours have paid tribute to the "wonderful, hard-working" family.

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