Neasden blaze 'caused by freezer'

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The Independent Online

A devastating house fire that killed five children and their mother is believed to have been caused by a freezer, the fire service said today.

Muna Elmufatish, 41, daughters Hanin Kua, 14, Basma, 13, Amal, nine, and brothers Mustafa, five, and Yehya, two, died after their London home was engulfed in flames in the early hours of Saturday.



London Fire Brigade said the family's chest freezer, which was stored in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs, was most likely to have started the blaze, which became the capital's worst house fire in more than a decade.



It came as an inquest was opened and adjourned into the deaths today.







While it has been confirmed that a fridge-freezer was in the house, the appliance believed to have sparked the fire is a different model.



A spokesman for London Fire Brigade said: "Six people died and two people were seriously injured in a blaze that started in the early hours of Saturday morning in a two-storey semi-detached house on Sonia Gardens in Neasden.



"Fire investigators believe that a chest freezer, which was in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs, may have caused the fire. The make of the chest freezer is not known at this stage."



Earlier, coroner's officer Rebecca Smith broke down in tears as she listed the details of the dead.



Her voice broke and she wiped her eyes as she read out the date of birth and home address of little Yehya for Andrew Walker, Coroner for the Northern District of Greater London.



The coroner looked up to check she was all right to continue.



Asked later how she was, she said it had been "tough" going through the details of the youngsters' deaths.



Post-mortem examinations found that the six victims died from inhalation of fumes when the blaze raged through their home.



The children's father, Bassam Kua, 51, and their 16-year-old sister, Nur, escaped the flames but remain in hospital.



The girl is critical but stable and her father is in a stable condition.



Investigations continue into what caused the devastating fire, which police do not believe was suspicious.







London Fire Brigade is to launch a fire safety blitz across the capital in the wake of the deaths, supported by a Facebook campaign.



This will begin with a pilot programme in secondary schools in Brent, the borough where the fire happened.



The brigade will write to every headteacher in London with fire safety advice, while every primary school in the capital is to be offered the opportunity of a visit, a spokesman said.



On Facebook, the "Share it to Save a Life" campaign will encourage people to exchange fire safety tips.











Steve Turek, assistant commissioner for the London Fire Brigade, said: "Fire investigators will continue to piece together the tragic events of Saturday morning but early indications are that the fire was caused by a chest freezer in the hallway of the house.



"Our deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of those who died.



"This tragic event should focus people's minds on how they can make their home safer."



Today's inquest was adjourned to February 16.

PA

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