Father tells of ‘blind panic’ as he tried to rescue family

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A FATHER who lost five of his children and his wife in a devastating house fire described the harrowing moments when he ran up and down his burning home as he searched for his family.

Bassam Kua, 52, braved blinding smoke and raging flames as he tried to save his loved ones when the blaze ripped through their home in September last year.

But he was unable to reach his wife Muna Elmufatish, 41, daughters Hanin Kua, 14, Basma, 13, Amal, nine, and sons Mustafa, five, and Yehya, two.

An inquest at North London Coroner’s Court in Barnet heard the family were all asleep when the blaze engulfed their home.

Only Mr Kua and his daughter Nur, 17, escaped the property in Sonia Gardens, Neasden.

Coroner Andrew Walker read a statement by Mr Kua in the days after the fire which started behind a freezer in the hallway of the house. He said he and his wife ran downstairs when they were alerted to the fire. He shouted to her to get the children while he would douse the flames using a garden hose.

Outside, he found his daughter lying in the garden.

“I thought she must have jumped from her bedroom window,” he said. “I saw blood on the side of her head. I pulled her two or three metres to the side of the garden in case any one else jumped from the window.”

He said the hose was “useless”, and he decided to go back upstairs to rescue his family but he had to feel around with his hands because he could no longer see.

“I didn’t care about the fire, I just wanted to get the children out,” he said. “I was shouting for my wife but she didn’t answer.

“I remember hearing an explosion or a loud bang. I was in a blind panic. I think I repeated the process of running up and down and out of the house about four or five times.”

He recalled seeing fire crews bring out five-year-old son.

“I saw them pushing down on his chest trying to save him. I kept asking about Mustafa, and after about 10 minutes or so they said Mustafa was dead.”

Fire investigator Andrew Vaughan-Davies told the inquest part of the freezer could have degraded and electrical current would have caused it to heat up and become “like molten lava”.

He said insulation foam in fridge-freezers is highly flammable and can be “catastrophic” if a fire reaches it.

The hearing continues.