Halifax home demolished after fire that claimed the lives of seven children

HALIFAX — Three weeks after a fast-moving house fire killed seven young members of a Syrian refugee family, the charred remains of their suburban Halifax home have been torn down.

Neighbour Nicole Snook, whose home is down the street from where the Barho family lived, said the two-storey house was demolished without warning on Tuesday.

“It was quite a shock,” said Snook, who has young children of her own.

“Even though I saw it every day, what happened there was so unspeakable — it’s so hard to comprehend.”

Embraheim and Kawthar Barho came with their children to Canada in September 2017. At first, they lived in rural Elmsdale, N.S., but they had recently moved to the neighbourhood of Spryfield to take advantage of immigrant services, including English-language training.

Early on Feb. 19, their relatively new rental home caught fire. The flames spread so quickly that only the parents managed to escape, though Embraheim is still recovering from extensive burns.

All seven of their children, who ranged in age from three months to the mid-teens, died in the home.

The cause of the fire has yet to be determined.

A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $700,000 for the family.

All that remains at the grim site on Quartz Drive is the concrete foundation.

Photos on social media show a huge mound of stuffed toys piled against a utility pole on the property’s edge.

Snook, who was left badly shaken by the tragedy, said she had planned on setting aside a few moments to pause outside the home, pay her respects and seek some form of closure.

But with her family to care for and a constant stream of curious onlookers on the street, she never got around to that simple ritual.

“I needed to go there to have a moment … (But) I never had an opportunity because there’s been a parade of people coming and going,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

“I wanted a bit of a private moment. But there’s been no privacy at all … People come and go from the front and the back non-stop.”

Snook said most of her neighbours are probably relieved now that the house is gone.

And the number of gawkers has dropped over the past week.

However, she said many of those who showed up to gaze upon the wrecked house probably had good reasons for doing so.

“I think most people needed to go and pay their respects and some just needed to see it,” she said.

“We’re tangible, physical beings. When something like this happens, that punctures people to the very core of what it means to be human. We need something to touch, to see — to somehow make sense of something that’s so senseless.”

The Barho family were among 1,795 Syrian refugees who have come to Nova Scotia in recent years.

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