x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

A year after tragic fire, one life is reclaimed

Abdulaziz Al Hudairi unsuccessfully tried to rescue family by prying open window bars.

A fire that broke out at this home in the Al Remah area near Al Ain in June of last year killed a mother and her four children. The husband and father who survived is rebuilding his life.
A fire that broke out at this home in the Al Remah area near Al Ain in June of last year killed a mother and her four children. The husband and father who survived is rebuilding his life.

A year after a tragedy that claimed the lives of a mother and four of her children, their husband and father has begun what will be a long road to recovery.

In the early hours of June 16 last year at their home in Al Ain, Abdulaziz Al Hudairi, an Egyptian farmer working for the municipality, woke to the screams of his wife Farah, 28.

She had been sleeping with their two sons and two daughters in the children's bedroom and were trapped by a fire that had broken out there.

Flames and thick smoke prevented Mr Al Hudairi, 33, from reaching his family.

He rushed outside, broke the bedroom window and tried to pry the anti-burglar bars open.

But he was not able to bend the bars enough to rescue even the smallest of his children.

When firefighters arrived from the nearest fire station, 25 kilometres away from the remote agricultural area of Remah, they found Mohammed, 10, Suad, 5, Aya, 3, and Omar, 2, dead in their room.

Their mother was found barely alive, but died later that day at Tawam Hospital due to smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is still unknown, although Civil Defence said at the time a short circuit was suspected.

Mr Al Hudairi was also admitted to Tawam after the accident but soon left for Egypt to bury his family in their homeland.

Before he left, he returned to the scene of the tragedy to collect a few items.

"I couldn't talk to him when he returned that day," recalled Shahr Nawaz, of Pakistan, a tractor driver who worked with Mr Al Hudairi at the Al Ain Municipality.

"While he was talking to someone else, I saw he couldn't stop crying. I'm sure it was very terrible for him, but it was very hard on me to see him like that after he lost everyone."

After burying his family back home, Mr Al Hudairi decided to travel to Mecca for Umrah to ease some of his pain, he recently told The National.

"I spent three difficult months in Egypt after Umra," said Mr Al Hudairi.

"I couldn't think of another at the time but my mum kept on insisting I get married again. She said, 'you have to move on, you have to live, you can't just stay like this."

Eventually Mr Al Hudairi acquiesced to his mother's wishes, married and returned with his wife to work for the Al Ain municipality last September.

He still farms for the municipality, but has been transferred to the Al Fagah area on the other side of Al Ain.

His old house in Remah is still vacant and untouched, with the charred borders of the windows making it seem as if time has stood still for this place since that tragic morning exactly one year ago.

"I couldn't return to that place again. I don't even want to think of it," Mr Al Hudairi said fighting back tears.

"All I am trying to do is put this incident behind me. No one and nothing will bring back my children. They are all with Allah now, may Allah bless them all.

"Insha'Allah I will have children again."

tsubaihi@thenational.ae