x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Police hail UAE blaze mother as 'martyr' for rescue attempt

A mother trapped with her family and two maids in their blazing home yesterday made a desperate phone call to emergency services, pleading to be rescued.

Scene of the fire in Ajman where an Emirati mother, her three daughters and two maids died.
Scene of the fire in Ajman where an Emirati mother, her three daughters and two maids died.

AJMAN // A mother trapped with her family in their blazing home yesterday made a desperate phone call to emergency services, pleading to be rescued.

Minutes later she was dead, along with her three daughters and two housemaids, as smoke and flames engulfed the Emirati family's villa in the Al Hamideyah neighbourhood of Ajman city.

The mother's last worldly act was to try to save her family, Brig Saleh Saeed Al Matroushi, director general of Ajman Civil Defence, said yesterday. "This qualifies her to be a martyr in this holy month of Ramadan."

The woman, a widow, died along with her daughters aged 7, 14 and 11, and the two housemaids, one from Ethiopia and the other from Indonesia.

The sole survivor of the blaze was the woman's 15-year-old son, Amer Ahmed, who jumped from a window and was rescued by firefighters.

Brig Saleh Saeed Al Matroushi said the emergency unit received a desperate call from the woman pleading for rescue crews to come quickly and save her family.

"Her voice cut out quickly and the address she gave was not right," he said. "The firefighters tried to call her back and she didn't respond. They only managed to find the house through following the smoke."

The call was made at around 8.56am. Emergency teams arrived at the house within six minutes.

Fire crews found the bodies of the mother and the two maids on the ground floor of the villa, where the fire is believed to have started. The bodies of the girls were found in their bedroom on the first floor.

The six bodies were taken to Sheikh Khalifa hospital, where the surviving son was examined by doctors and is in a stable condition. The bodies of the three girls were later taken to the police forensic laboratory to help with investigations into the fire.

"We have sent fire scene experts, including some from Dubai, to help investigate and establish the cause of the fire," said Brig Ali Alwan, director general of Ajman Police.

Brig Al Matroushi said the fire could have been started by an electrical fault in the villa, although investigations into the cause are continuing and a report should be ready within a week.

Civil defence authorities in the emirate are planning to introduce a GPS system that will identify the location of a caller to enable firefighters to find them more easily, he said.

He appealed to families in the emirate to follow fire safety precautions to prevent such tragedies in the future.

ykakande@thenational.ae