Doctor who lost wife and four children in suspected arson attack at Essex home 'fought hard to save his family in appalling conditions'

Police confirmed that they are treating the fire as suspicious, adding that a car not belonging to the family was also found alight just a few metres from the house.

A man who lost his wife and four children in a suspected arson attack on their home “fought hard to save his family in appalling conditions”, police said today.

Dr Abdul Shakoor suffered minor injuries in the blaze, but his wife Sabah Usmani, sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayan, six, and 12-year-old daughter Hira all died.

A third son, Muneeb, nine, and daughter Maheen, three, were rescued by fire crews and taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in a critical condition. Muneeb later died.

Police and firefighters were original called to the house in Barn Mead at about 1am this morning.

Essex Police confirmed that they are treating the fire as suspicious, adding that a car not belonging to the family was found alight just a few metres from the house. The car fire is also being treated as arson.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge said: “In the history of Essex Police, seldom has there been an incident of this gravity, in which five people, four of them children, have lost their lives.”

The Head of the Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate said his sympathies, and those of the force, were with Mr Shakoor.

“I would like to stress that the father of these children was in the property at the time and fought hard to save his family in appalling conditions,” he told a press conference.“

Mr Beautridge said the father was ”in severe shock“ and was being treated for severe smoke inhalation in the intensive care unit at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow.

He said: ”Our work with Mr Shakoor to establish some of the facts of this case will, inevitably, take time because of the emotional trauma he has suffered at the loss of his family. His condition is described as stable.“

Earlier, senior investigating officer Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson said: ”This is the still the early stages of our investigation into the tragic deaths of five members of one family - a mother and four of her young children.

“At this time we are investigating to see whether this fire was started deliberately and need anyone with information to contact us.”

The house will be forensically examined to find out how the blaze started.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Provisioning Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Provisioning Specialist is required to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Apprenticeships

£10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an outstanding opportunity for 1...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Support Engineer is required to join a well-...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Administrator - Swedish Speaking

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join an awa...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum