Inquest Into Fatal Neasden House Fire
22 October 2012, 18:38
A father who lost five of his children and his wife in a devastating house fire in north London has described running up and down his burning home as he searched for his family.
52 year old Bassam Kua braved blinding smoke and flames as he tried to save his loved ones when the fire ripped through their home in Neasden in September last year.
But he was unable to reach his wife Muna Elmufatish, daughters Hanin, Basma and Amal, and sons Mustafa, and Yehya, who died in the fire.
The inquest into their deaths at North London Coroner's Court in Barnet heard the family were all asleep when the fire engulfed their home in the early hours of September 24 2011.
Only Mr Kua and his daughter Nur, escaped the property in Sonia Gardens, and they were treated in hospital.
Coroner Andrew Walker read out a statement written by Mr Kua in the days after the fire, which started behind a chest freezer in the hallway of the four-bedroom semi-detached house.
The father stood in the witness box as the coroner read out his account to the court.
Mr Walker read: "The next thing I remember was Muna waking me up and the smoke alarm sounding.
"There was thick black smoke in the room."
He said the couple got up and ran downstairs to investigate.
"I felt my way around the room by feeling with my hand.
"She shouted that the fire was at the back of the freezer."
In the statement Mr Kua said he shouted at Muna to get the children while he would try to douse the flames with water.
"The flames were higher than my head. I then thought it was better to use the garden hose."
Mr Kua said he went outside where he saw a neighbour standing in his garden, who called out to say his daughter was there.
"I saw my daughter Nur, who was 16," he said. "I thought she must have jumped from her bedroom window.
"I saw blood on the side of her head.
"I pulled her two or three metres to the side of the garden in case any one else jumped from the window."
In the statement Mr Kua said the garden hose was "useless", and he decided to try to go back upstairs to rescue his family.
"I didn't care about the fire, I just wanted to get the children out," he said.
"I was shouting for my wife but she didn't answer."
He said he went back into the house to search for his wife and children, but had to feel around with his hands because he could no longer see.
"I remember hearing an explosion or a loud bang.
"I was in a blind panic. I went upstairs to try to find my family but I couldn't.
"I think I repeated the process of running up and down and out of the house about four or five times."
Mr Kua said that when the emergency services arrived he was in such a panic that he refused medical treatment.
"I saw the fire brigade bringing out my son Mustafa, who was five years old.
"I saw them pushing down on his chest trying to save him.
"I told them the others were upstairs, and where were their ladders?
"I kept asking about Mustafa, and after about 10 minutes or so they said Mustafa was dead."
The inquest continues.