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Barho parents offer 'deepest gratitude' to Nova Scotians a year after deadly fire

One year after a fire ripped through a Spryfield home and claimed the lives of seven children, Kawthar and Ebraheim Barho say they're grateful to the "thousands of Nova Scotians" who shared their support.

Statement from Kawthar and Ebraheim Barho came a day before tragic anniversary

Barho parents offer 'deepest gratitude' to Nova Scotians a year after deadly fire

2 years ago
3:11
One year after a fire ripped through a Spryfield home and claimed the lives of seven children, Kawthar and Ebraheim Barho say they're grateful to the "thousands of Nova Scotians" who shared their support. (Still photo by Pat Healey/Enfield Weekly Press) 3:11

A couple who lost their seven young children in a deadly Halifax-area fire say they're grateful for "the thousands of Nova Scotians who have shown us their love and support over this past year."

The Hants East Assisting Refugees Team (HEART Society) issued a statement on its Facebook page on behalf of Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho on Tuesday.

"The loss is immense, and we miss our children every day," the statement said. 

"Still we have found comfort in the kindness of strangers, in the courage of first responders, in the dedication of health-care professionals, and in the sense of belonging offered to us by this community."

Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary since a fire at a Spryfield home claimed the lives of the Barho children: Abdullah, 3 months; Rana, 2; Hala, 3; Ola, 8; Mohamad, 9; Rola, 12; and Ahmed, 14.

The children's mother, Kawthar, managed to escape the blaze, but her husband, Ebraheim, was critically injured. He was initially placed in a medically induced coma and has spent the last year in hospital recovering from extensive burns. 

On Wednesday, the HEART Society said in a Facebook message that he is now awake.

The tragedy created a ripple effect of sorrow across Nova Scotia and beyond.

In the days following the fire, mourners attended a vigil and left tributes of toys and flowers at the home on Quartz Drive. The funeral for the Barho children, which happened four days after the fire, drew thousands of people.

The fire happened on Feb. 19, 2019. A memorial was set up in front of the home in memory of the seven children who died in the blaze. (Robert Short/CBC)

The Barho family is originally from the war-torn Syrian city of Raqqa and lived briefly in Damascus before moving to Beirut.

The family arrived in Nova Scotia as refugees in September 2017.

Cause of blaze undetermined

In September, Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency said it was unable to determine the cause of the fire.

Chief Ken Stuebing said at the time that even though the fire department didn't know the exact cause, the fire was not suspicious and there was no evidence any kind of accelerant was used.

The department also determined it wasn't a cooking fire or due to some kind of electrical fault or defect. There was also no evidence the fire was caused by someone carelessly getting rid of cigarettes or other smoking materials.

The fire department has closed its investigation and has no plans to reopen it unless new information is discovered.

Deputy fire Chief David Meldrum said the department is hopeful the father can offer insight to the cause of the fire now that he's awake.

"When it's the right time, we will reach out to Mr. Barho to see if he can give us any more information that might help us understand what happened," Meldrum said.

Support for firefighters

Meldrum said the firefighters who responded to the fateful call are all back to work, but the department has increased resilience training to discuss occupational stress, mental illness warning signs and how to ask for support.

"Some are still receiving help ... so we continue to support those firefighters and we'll do that as long as it takes," he said.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Cooke

Reporter/editor

Alex is a reporter living in Halifax. Send her story ideas at alex.cooke@cbc.ca.

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