An imam, who has been speaking to the woman who lost seven children in a Halifax house fire Tuesday, is shedding new light on what may have happened.
The fire ripped through the home on Quartz Drive in Spryfield not long after midnight.
Seven children ranging in age from four months to 14-years-old died. Their father, Ebraheim Barho, was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries and their mother, Kawthar Barho, was treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
Ibrahim Al-shanti, who has been visiting with Kawthar, says the mother told him everyone had gone to bed upstairs that night.
She told him she had come downstairs to make milk for the baby.
“She came down to make milk for the baby and she noticed [the fire]. She called her husband, who tried to put it off. And he pushed the lady out away from the fire,” he said.
“She called the father, she woke him up, he came down and tried to put the fire off. Apparently, he has before faced the same problem, and was able to put it off or something. So, unfortunately, it was not the case yesterday.”
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Natalie Horne, a spokesperson from the Hants East Assisting Refugees Team (HEART), says Kawthar recounted a similar course of events to her.
“From what I understand, and again this is through Kawthar, through translation, she saw the couch on fire and the fire spread upwards towards the bedrooms where the children were sleeping,” she said.
Next-door neighbour Danielle Burt told Global News on Tuesday she saw a distraught Kawthar and badly-injured Ebraheim outside their home while flames spread quickly up the house.
Halifax Fire described arriving at the scene to find heavy flames in the first and second storey of the house. While they were able to put the fire out relatively quickly, all seven children were found dead inside.
The family had arrived in Nova Scotia in September 2017 as privately-sponsored refugees from Syria. HEART, which sponsored the family, has identified the victims as Ahmad, 14; Rola, 12; Mohamad, 9; Ola, 8; Hala, 3; Rana, 2 and Abdullah, who was born in Canada last year.
The family had initially lived in the East Hants area, but moved to the home on Quartz Drive last fall. Horne says the Barhos were planning to return to East Hants and were planning to move next week.
“They were really looking forward to that, and the kids were just really looking forward to reconnecting with their friends and classmates and all the community sponsors that had helped out in their first year in Canada,” she said.
Leno Ribahi, an Elmsdale businessman who has helped the Barho family settle into Nova Scotia, says Ebraheim remains in critical condition in the ICU.
“Kawthar is physically OK. But mentally, we don’t know. Emotionally, we don’t know,” he said.
Al-shanti says the family’s mosque and the community are now looking to help the couple by bringing their family members to Canada to be by their side.
“We will be in contact with the officials to bring them here. We will sponsor them as a community,” he said. “The sooner they come, the better.”
WATCH: Fire engulfs Halifax house, killing 7 kids from same family
Ribahi says the community would like to see Kawthar’s mother and brother come in time for the funerals, at the very least. Al-Shanti says the funerals are expected to take place Thursday or Friday at the Ummah Mosque in Halifax.
Meanwhile, fire investigators continue their investigation into what caused the fire.
— With files from Alicia Draus and Ross Lord