'It’s just devastating': Community remembers tragedy that killed seven children almost two years ago
HALIFAX -- Friday marks two years since a terrible fire claimed the lives of seven children in a Halifax neighbourhood and those in the community, along with first responders, say it is a day they will never forget.
Syrian refugees Ebraheim and Kawthar Barho moved to Canada in September 2017. It was on Feb. 19, 2019, that their lives changed forever, after their seven children perished in a house fire in Spryfield, N.S.
The community grieved for and with the Barho family in the aftermath – a sadness that still remains.
"It's just devastating," says Cecilia Jeffrey, a resident in the area.
Cecilia moved into the neighbourhood a few months after the fire. She says she thinks of the family every day as she passes the lot where their home once sat.
"Why it happened and why they had to lose their lives. A family coming over from a war-torn country and coming here, and this had to happen to them," says Cecilia.
The Hants East Assisting Refugee Team Society, also known as the HEART Society, sponsored the Barho family to bring them to Canada from Syria in 2017.
In a Facebook post on Friday morning, the HEART Society wrote Ebraheim was discharged from the hospital in the early summer, and now lives at home where he continues his recovery.
Debbie Ward is a burn survivor and the head of the Nova Scotia Burn Support Group that helps people injured in fires.
She says she will never forget meeting Kawthar Barho in the hospital as she sat by her husband's bedside.
"Kawthar presented as a very strong woman for what she was going through," said Debbie.”
She knows Ebraheim’s ongoing road to recovery is a long one. She says the last time she saw him was before the pandemic began.
“As long as you have faith, there's hope,” she says. As long as you have hope, you can move on."
For fire crews who responded to the scene two years ago, it was a devastating call. When crews arrived, the fire was moving so quickly at such a high heat, that little evidence was left for investigators.
To date, the cause of the fire remains undetermined.
As for the firefighters who were there that frigid February night, the process of healing has proven to be a long one.
"They're all in their own place and much healing has happened for sure," said Halifax Fire Deputy Chief David Meldrum.
Meldrum says some of the firefighters who attended the scene may be on shift during the two-year anniversary this Friday. He says the whole department will have the Barho family in their thoughts.
"I know that Mrs. Barho actually at one point sent her wishes to our firefighters, and for that act of grace, we are grateful," said David.
More than 2,000 people attended a public funeral service for the Barho children in Halifax.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also attended an evening vigil held by the city shortly after the tragedy.