All seven children of HEART Society-sponsored Syrian Refugee family the Barho’s perish in blaze
ELMSDALE: Two communities are mourning the deaths of seven children who came to Canada in late 2017 after a devastating fire in their home in Spryfield on Feb. 19.
The Barho family were Syrian Refugees sponsored by the East Hants-based Hants East Assisting Refugee Team (HEART) Society, and arrived on Sept. 29, 2017 to much fanfare and cheers as they came down the escalators at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho, along with children Abdullah, four months old; Rana, 3; Hala, 4; Ghala, 8; Mohammed, 10; Rola, 12; and Ahmed, 14 had previously lived in Elmsdale before moving to the home on Quartz Drive in Spryfield.
The family was planning to return to East Hants in the next couple of weeks as their kids missed their school friends at Riverside Education Centre and Elmsdale District School, where the kids attended before moving in October to Spryfield.
HEART released a statement on the afternoon of Feb. 19 about the tragic fire, which occurred in the wee hours on Quartz Drive.
“It is with great heartbreak we confirm that all seven children of the Barho family perished in an overnight fire,” said the statement, posted on their Facebook page. ” The children’s father was badly injured trying to rescue the children, and he is in critical condition.”
“The four school aged children were really looking forward to returning to their schools, Elmsdale District School and Riverside Education Centre.”
As news broke, people were sending their condolences to the family and the community members and volunteers with the HEART Society who helped bring the family to Canada.
“It’s a sad day for our community,” one post read on a Facebook page.
At a press conference held hours after the tragic fire, police and fire investigators couldn’t answer much of the questioning from media.
“It’s still early in the investigation at this stage,” said Halifax Regional Police spokesman Const. John MacLeod at the press conference.
Dave Meldrum with HRM Fire was asked if there is anything suspicious in nature of the early parts of the investigation.
“If it is suspicious we will get HRP involved,” said Meldrum. “If not, our fire investigators will continue the investigation.”
Halifax Regional Police confirmed all seven had died as a result of the fire. The house was completely destroyed by the fire, which bystanders told other media overtook the home quickly.
The family arrived in Canada on Sept. 29, 2017 to much relief from members of the HEART Society after two years of ups and downs.
HRM Councillor Stephen Adams, who represents the Spryfield area, said he was “sick” to hear about the fire.
“It’s a horrible tragedy,” said Adams.
As Meldrum had said, Adams said supports are in place for the first responders who responded to the tragedy.
“We just need to know who needs the help, but we don’t expect that for some time,” he said.
Meldrum concluded the news conference at HRP headquarters saying they are in touch with the NS Fire Marshall.
“HRM Fire will continue to lead the investigation,” he said.
The HEART statement continued, noting there were many thanks to be extended that helped make the kids feel welcomed and bring the Barho family to East Hants.
“For the past year-and-a-half, the children have been able to enjoy life as kids should be able to: going to school, riding bicycles, swimming, having friends, running in the yard, celebrating birthday parties and hanging out with the neighbours on their porch swing,” the statement said. “They loved every minute of it, and it seems impossible we won’t hear their laughter and feel their hugs again. “
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau passed on his sentiments in a tweet about the tragic fire.
“Words fail when children are taken from us too soon, especially in circumstances like this,” said Trudeau on his official twitter @JustinTrudeau. “My heart goes out to the survivors of the horrible fire in Halifax this morning, and the loved ones who are mourning this tremendous loss.”
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and his wife Jill also passed on their thoughts and condolences on his twitter, @AndrewScheer.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also offered his condolences.
A community gathering was quickly arranged and scheduled to be held at Grand Parade by Halifax City Hall on Feb. 20.
A fundraiser has been setup by the HEART Society with all monies raised going towards the survivors. It can be found at: HEART Society Fundraiser . It has raised $3,500 of $10,000 goal as of Feb. 20.
There is another fundraiser through GoFundMe setup by and monitored by Imam Council of Halifax, in cooperation with HEART Society.
The fundraiser can be found by searching for “Halifax House Fire Tragedy” on GoFundMe.com/. As of Feb. 20, almost $190,000 of a $200,000 goal had been raised in just hours after the fire. The funds will be gifted to the family, and not used towards burial the GoFundMe page notes.
MAIN PHOTO: The Barho family with members of the HEART Society, Leno and Natalie after arriving in Sept. 2017. (Healey file photo)