With Eid just a week away, the Khan family was in high spirits they rose for sehri at 4.30 am, not knowing it would be the last time the entire family would be together. Disaster struck soon after they went back to sleep — the first warning was the smoke rising from the pharmacy run by the family on the ground floor of their house at Juhu Galli, Andheri.

(From left) Aliza (7), Uzaif (9), Ummehani (9) and Tuba (4)
(From left) Aliza (7), Uzaif (9), Ummehani (9) and Tuba (4)

“I smelled the smoke and woke up. There was a lot of panic all around. From the first floor balcony, I jumped on to the neighbour’s terrace and came down. I was calling out to my family to come out that way too. My son Imtiyaz first tried to go downstairs, but it was too hot. So he and my second son Nazim, also came out through the window,” said Moazzam Khan, the head of the family.

Siddique, who died along with his wife and two kids
Siddique, who died along with his wife and two kids

His wife Shubunnissa fell down the stairs while trying to run out and was knocked unconscious. “She must have suffocated due to the smoke and died,” he said.

Sofiya, seen here with 45-day-old Altamash, who was the youngest to perish
Sofiya, seen here with 45-day-old Altamash, who was the youngest to perish

Survivors’ guilt
Moazzam and his sons, Imtiyaz and Nizam, could not control their tears as he recounted the ordeal. They were the only ones to survive from the family of 12. The flames had engulfed the building within minutes. But the survivors could have saved their family if not for one fatal error.

The entire building was gutted within minutes. Pic/Prabhanjan Dhanu
The entire building was gutted within minutes. Pic/Prabhanjan Dhanu

Initially, the flames were confined to the medical store. After Moazzam and his sons jumped out the window, they tried to open the shop’s shutters and douse the fire, but ended up making things much worse.

With the fresh inflow of oxygen, the fire then blasted upwards to the top floors and trapped the rest of the family inside.