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Thursday 21 March 2019
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‘I was always there to protect him’

MOURNING: Shairoon Mohammed whose son Raffie died in a fire at their home on Monday.
MOURNING: Shairoon Mohammed whose son Raffie died in a fire at their home on Monday.

A WEEPING Nazra Baksh, 53, told Newsday yesterday, “I tried my best to save my baby brother. I protected him all his life from everything and it hurts so much to know I could not protect from this fire. I couldn’t.” As she lay in her bed at the San Fernando General Hospital, Baksh was comforted by her children.

Her brother Raffie Mohammed, 47, who had Down syndrome, died in a fire that destroyed the family’s house on Monday. Baksh lived across the road at Tulsa Branch Trace in Penal. She said she ran into the burning house and into the room where her brother was sitting.

“There was fire everywhere, things were falling and Raffie was just on the ground sitting and crying.” Baksh said she held on to her brother’s arms and tried to lift him up. “I keep pulling him and saying, ‘Raffie, please get up, we need to leave. Please, baby.’ I could feel the fire burning my skin, but I just wanted to save my baby brother.”

A still visibly traumatised Baksh said it was as if her brother’s feet were numb. “He tried to get up, but he could not move his feet. He was confused, frightened,” said Baksh who has been in serious condition with extensive burns to her face, arms, legs and back.

She said she could not sleep last night, as images of her brother in the burning house haunted her.

“Every time I close my eyes, I see Raffie screaming in the fire. I just can’t believe this happened. I was always his protector. My siblings and I took care of Raffie from since birth. We helped mom with him and took turns looking after him.”

Raffie was the youngest of the nine siblings, and Baksh said her brother was always the baby. “He was like a child. He was loving, caring and always hugging everyone. He was always so joyful.”

Raffie lived with his 87-year-old mother Shairoon Mohammed, whose hands were burned in the fire. A caretaker, Judy Toll was also present. A villager pulled Nazra out of the burning house.

Police reported that the fire started on Monday evening in a back room of the house. The cause of the fire has not yet been ascertained and Siparia police are investigating.

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