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Essex House Fire

October 16, 2012 by  

Essex House Fire, Police are examining if a doctor and her four children who were killed in a suspected arson attack were not the intended targets. Police say a doctor who lost his wife and four children in a suspected arson attack on their home in Essex “fought hard” to save them. Four of the victims – Sabah Usmani, who was also a doctor, and her sons Sohaib, 13, and Rayyan, six, and 11-year-old daughter Hira – died in the blaze in Barn Mead, Harlow, in the early hours of Monday.

A third son, nine-year-old Muneeb, was rescued with his three-year-old sister Maheen. Both were taken to the town’s Princess Alexandra Hospital in a critical condition, but Muneeb died later.

Maheen remains critical and has been transferred to a specialist burns unit at the Broomfield hospital in Chelmsford.

The children’s father, Dr Abdul Shakoor, works at the Princess Alexandra Hospital where he is being treated for minor burns and smoke inhalation. His condition is described as stable.

Dr Shakoor apparently escaped the fire by jumping from a first-floor window and is said by police to have “fought hard to save his family in appalling conditions”. He is not being treated as a suspect.

Dr Shakour and his wife Sabah Usmani
Police are working to establish a possible motive for the attack. There had been no previous problems with racism in the area, although there have been other arson attacks on cars nearby, officers said.

One possible line of enquiry is that the family were not the intended target of the attackers.

Witness reports suggest between one and four people were in the area at the time. Such sightings will form a key part of the investigation, police said.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge said: “In the history of Essex Police, seldom has there been an incident of this gravity, in which five people, four of them children, have lost their lives.

“I would like to stress that the father of these children was in the property at the time and fought hard to save his family in appalling conditions.”

Mr Beautridge said Dr Shakoor was “in severe shock”. He added: “Our work with (him) to establish some of the facts of this case will, inevitably, take time because of the emotional trauma he has suffered.”

A torched car was found close to the burning house
One neighbour told Sky News the doctor was in his dressing gown, screaming “get my family out” and had to be physically restrained from going inside the house.

Emergency services were called to Barn Mead at 1.48am. They found a burning car and an end-of-terrace house “engulfed” with flames coming out of the front and back doors.

Firefighters wearing breathing equipment battled “punishing” conditions inside before pulling out six people, Chief Fire Officer David Johnson, from Essex Fire and Rescue, told Sky News.

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