AL AIN // A mother and her four children were killed in a house fire early yesterday morning despite her husband's frantic attempts to save them.
Abdulaziz al Hudairi, 33, an Egyptian farmer, woke up at 4am to the screams of his wife, Farah, 28, who had been sleeping in the children's bedroom.
She was trapped by the flames and smoke along with Mohammed, 10, and Omar, 2, and two girls, Suad, 5, and Aya, 3. Unable to reach them from inside the home, Mr al Hudairi rushed outside and broke the bedroom window, screaming for his family as he tried to remove the anti-burglar bars, according to neighbours.
He managed to pry the bars open a little, but not enough to pass even the smallest of his children through, they said.
When firemen arrived from the nearest fire station, 25km from the home in the Remah district, they broke through the front door. Once inside, they found the four children had died.
Mrs al Hudairi was alive but died later due to smoke inhalation at Tawam Hospital.
"None of them were burnt," Mr al Hudairi said in the intensive-care unit at Tawam Hospital. "They suffocated from the smoke. They are all with God now. We are all from Allah, and to Allah we will all return."
Mr al Hudairi said he was too distraught to discuss the incident further, but said he was eager to get out of hospital to arrange for his family to be buried in Egypt.
Col Mohammed Abdullah al Nuaimi, of Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, said: "The fire broke out in one of the rooms in the traditional home, comprised of two bedrooms, a kitchen and bathroom. The father had managed to get out of the house and called 999.
"Our personnel rushed to the scene, broke into the home and pulled out all the occupants, who were handed to paramedics, who rushed them to hospital."
Khalaf Gamar, an Egyptian farmer, who lives next door to the al Hudairi family, said he knew them well. "They have been my neighbours for six years," he said. "Abdulaziz and his wife were a great family with sweet kids. Their youngest son, Omar, had recently started to run, which brought Farah and Abdulaziz a lot of joy.
"All the kids were great, so polite. This is very tragic."
Civil Defence officials added all residents should be proactive in fire prevention and have a plan if a blaze does occur.
"There are a number of things that can be done to buy anyone caught in a fire some time. Each home should have at least two smoke detectors that would wake those asleep the moment smoke is detected," Col al Nuaimi said. "The head of the household should put together an exit strategy and conduct fire drills practising what to do should a fire happen. Each home should have at least one fire extinguisher, and all members of the family should know how to use it.
"If it's a small fire, an extinguisher can keep it from becoming a major fire. If it's a major fire, the most important thing is to get out." He added that overloading an outlet could lead to electrical short circuits, which have been responsible for several fatal fires.
The Civil Defence are still investigating yesterday's fire, but suspect a short circuit was the cause.