Sharjah: An Emirati man and his soldier son gave their lives to rescue their family as flames engulfed their home in Al Madam area of Sharjah on Friday.
Khalfan Nawas Al Kitbi, 53, and his son Hamdan, 20, sustained serious burns when they were literally forced to walk through flames to lead terrified family members cowering from the flames to safety but are believed to have died of smoke inhalation.
Neigbours also showed tremendous courage and helped the men of the house rescue 12 members of the family, most of them children.
Hadi, in his 20s, one of Al Kitbi’s nine children, told Gulf News on Saturday: “The house was engulfed in smoke and fire. It was a terrible sight; for a moment I paused because I didn’t know where to start from, it was like a nightmare. Flames were leaping out of the dinning room which has been completely gutted, then it spread to other parts of the house.”
Hadi’s mother, Zweina, 47, and her grandson Rashid Hamad Soror, 10, were airlifted to Abu Dhabi on Friday night for treatment of injuries. Zweina is being treated at Al Mafraq Hospital for breathing difficulties while Rashid has been admitted to the intensive care section of the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City hospital.
Hadi described how his father and brother safely handed down all the children in the villa using a hole created by neighhours who managed to remove the air-conditioning grills on a window with their bare hands. “They were walked through the flames into the bedrooms. They managed to save the lives of 12 family members. They rushed them out of the house but forgot about themselves — until they fell on ground motionless.”
Brigadier Abdullah Saeed Al Suwaidi, director general of Sharjah Civil Defence told Gulf News that the fire was started by a short circuit in a power connection to the property.
Firefighters brought the blaze under control after they were called in by neighbours who did whatever they could to douse the blaze.
Al Suwaidi said the fire was reported to the civil defence operation room by 2am on Friday morning and firefighters rushed to the scene.
Firefighters got the blaze under control in less than 10 minutes but it was still too late for the brave father and son.
Al Suwaidi said: “The firefighters dealt with the incident in a professional and fast manner but the human losses made it tragic; firefighters helped the injured and provided them with first aid and transferred them to hospital.”
A total of 12 members of the family were taken to Sharjah’s Al Dhaid Hospital.
Al Kitbi and Hamdan were buried at Umm Safa mosque in Sharjah on Friday.
Al Kitbi’s wife is recovering in hospital but hasn’t been told about the family’s loss, an official said.
Colonel Dr Abdul Qader Al Amiri, the director of Sharjah Police Forensic Laboratory, said initial investigations revealed that the fire was started by an electric short circuit in the living room but added that detailed investigations are still being conducted.