A husband whose wife and two young daughters were killed in a fire in Nottingham has described their deaths as a “cruel crime against my family”.
Aboubacarr Drammeh, 40, paid tribute to his wife Fatoumatta Hydara and their daughters Fatimah, three, and Naeemah Drammeh, one, in a statement released through Nottinghamshire Police.
Fatoumatta, aged 28, was placed on a life support machine on Sunday but died on Tuesday, two days after the fire engulfed her flat in Fairisle Close, Clifton.
Her daughters Naeemah and Fatimah were pronounced dead at the scene.
Nottinghamshire Police is treating the case as a triple homicide. The force said detectives have been given another 36 hours to question a 31-year-old man on suspicion of killing the young family.
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Paying tribute to his wife and children, Mr Drammeh, who flew back from the US following the fire, said: “It is with great sadness that we have lost Fatoumatta and our two daughters in such a tragic way.
“Fatoumatta had lived a short but a very beautiful and fulfilling life. A former voluntary worker, Fatoumatta was a very happy, bubbly woman who wouldn’t have the heart to hurt a fly.
“It is therefore inconceivable to think who might have committed this cruel crime against my family.
“We thank the Ahmadi Muslim community in Nottinghamshire, the Gambian community, the local neighbours and all those well-wishers for their continuous support in this difficult time.
“I and my in-laws are left without any daughters, grandchildren and nieces. I will deeply miss my family.”
Detective chief inspector Mark Sinski said: “We are dealing with one of the most horrendous crimes - the death of two young children and their mother.
“This is a deeply upsetting tragedy and I can only imagine the family’s pain. They include the woman’s husband and the father of the two children, who was not in the UK at the time of the fire.
“Both he and other members of the family are being supported by specially-trained officers at this incredibly difficult time and we ask for the media to give them privacy while they deal with this incredible loss.”
He added: “This has been an extremely traumatic event for them, and I’d like to reassure them we’re doing everything we possibly can to bring them the justice they deserve.”
An eyewitness of the fire said the older child was brought out of the property first, with the younger daughter carried out by a single firefighter shortly afterwards.
The man estimated that emergency services carried out CPR to try to save the pair for about 20 minutes, adding: “It was dark and raining and with the smoke, I couldn’t see what was happening behind the fire engine.”
“It’s sickening. I feel so sorry for the family,” he added.
Steven Davies, 54, who lives in the ground floor flat, said: “I saw the police drag out the little ones. The smoke was terrible. The kids would have had no chance. The lady who lives there was really kind. The children were lovely.”