NEWS

Family prays for infant injured in Winnipeg house fire

01/26/2012 10:06 EST | Updated 03/27/2012 05:12 EDT

Family members of a Winnipeg man who lost his mother, wife and two young daughters in a house fire this week say they are praying for his surviving infant girl.

Hamid Farooq remains at the hospital bedside of his four-month-old daughter, Hoorya, the sole survivor of a house fire in Winnipeg's West Kildonan neighbourhood on Tuesday night.

Farooq's wife Zebunesa Sadiq, 33, his mother Shemeem Akhtar, 60, and his daughters Fayza Peyawary, nine, and Aliza Sadiq, four, all died in the heavy smoke and fire that spread through their semi-detached home on Woodlark Place.

Farooq works nights and was not home at the time of the fire.

Khalid Mahmood, Farooq's brother-in-law, told reporters on Thursday that Farooq has been distraught and unable to sleep since the fatal fire.

Mahmood, who travelled to Winnipeg from Ontario, struggled to stay composed as he read a statement from Farooq.

"I am putting my trust in God Almighty that he will see me and my family through the difficult time," Mahmood said, stopping to sob as he read from his brother-in-law's statement.

Mahmood said doctors have told him that Hoorya, who remains in critical condition, has little brain activity.

Before breaking down, Mahmood asked that people pray for a miracle.

'Pray for my daughter'

Shahina Siddiqui of the Islamic Social Services Association, who has visited with Farooq in hospital, said it has been difficult to see him in so much pain.

"He is in shock, all that. He was very quiet. He kept saying to me, 'pray for my daughter,'" Siddiqui told CBC News.

"We are praying and hoping she will survive and I can just imagine, if we are feeling the pain [that] we are feeling, what the father is going through.

Neighbours told CBC News the family had moved to the city from Pakistan a few years ago. Akhtar was visiting from Pakistan and had only been in Winnipeg for about a week.

"Right now we are giving all the emotional, spiritual support that he needs and whatever physical needs he has," Siddiqui said. "Of course, his friends, close friends, are taking him in."

Mahmood said Farooq wants to bury his family members in Pakistan.

It would cost about $60,000 to transport the bodies from Canada to Pakistan, so members of Winnipeg's Muslim community have launched fundraising efforts.

Hussain Guisti of the Zubaidah Tallab Foundation, a Winnipeg-based Islamic charity, said pledges have already been coming in.

"We're all one, and we're all hurt by this," Guisti said.

"When something like this happens, the entire Muslim community is affected and the entire Muslim community is hurt."

Neighbours reeling

Winnipeg fire officials told CBC News they are combing through 911 tapes from Tuesday night to determine if there had been an earlier call regarding the fire.

There are reports that Zebunesa Sadiq had phoned 911, but she may have been so panicked that she gave the wrong address.

Meanwhile, neighbours on Woodlark Place are still reeling after the tragedy. Some said nine-year-old Fayza was a favourite on the block, brightening the days of neighbours.

Ron Harris said she was always out, riding her bike or chatting.

"She would come and say hello to my wife when she was outside gardening, like sneak up behind her and say 'boo.' And she thought that was quite funny," he said.

"She would come and help dig holes, help her plant, that sort of thing. If there was no other kids in the neighbourhood to play with, she'd come over.

"She would come out and say hello to me if I was out washing the car. She'd come up and talk tell me about what she was doing. And if I was out barbequeing, she'd come out and tell me that, 'Oh yeah, so our family barbeques a lot, too," Harris recalled. "If our grandson was over, she'd come over and see what he was doing."

Harris says everyone on the short street is devastated.

A spokesperson for Seven Oaks School Division said the elementary school that Fayza attended, Forest Park, is planning to honour the little girl with a special service.

MORE:cbcNews