A man whose wife and two young daughters died in a fire in Nottingham had plans to relocate to America.
Aboubacarr Drammeh, who turned 40 on Wednesday, paid tribute to his wife of eight years, Fatoumatta Hydara, and their daughters, Fatimah and Naeemah Drammeh, in a statement.
Hydara, 28, three-year-old Fatimah and one-year-old Naeemah died from smoke inhalation after a blaze at their home last Sunday. The three were due to join Drammeh, who was securing US visas for his family.
Drammeh said the past week as the “hardest” of his life, adding he would never get over spending part of his birthday in the hospital mortuary.
“We had an interview booked for 29 November and that would have been the final interview before we would hopefully have secured their visas,” said Aboubacarr, 40 who was in the US at the time of the fire.
“That’s not going to happen now and I can’t understand why.”
Jamie Barrow, 31, of Clifton, Nottingham, has been charged with three counts of murder.
The assistant chief constable, Rob Griffin, said: “Our thoughts remain with the family at this incredibly painful time, as well as the communities that have been affected by this most tragic of incidents. The grief this family has been put through is incomprehensible.”
Faoumatta and her daughters were taken to Queen’s medical centre on Sunday, where the two children were pronounced dead shortly after arrival. Their mother was placed on a life support machine before she died on Tuesday.
Aboubacarr flew back to the UK and visited the scene of the fire on Monday, where he told reporters his wife was a “very happy, bubbly woman who wouldn’t have the heart to hurt a fly”.
“I am just grieving. I have just flown in from America. I have come straight here from the airport,” he said.
His 40th birthday, which passed on Wednesday, was “just so hard”, said Aboubacarr, having spent it in the hospital mortuary.
He said: “I had to go in there and see the bodies. That was just so hard.”
Aboubacarr told the BBC he had spoken to his wife hours before the fire at their flat in Fairisle Close in Clifton, about four miles south of the city centre.
“We joked among ourselves,” he said, “and kept talking about the upcoming trip and about her coming to America.”
Aboubacarr said his daughters “were both really happy children. They loved spending time with their grandparents and got along really well as siblings.”
Fatoumatta’s uncle Dawda Dibba, 44, said: “She was an incredible person with incredible passion. She was someone who cared a lot about people. As soon as she met you, you were part of the family.
“The two children will be greatly missed. Other children in the family loved playing with them and it is very hard to explain to them what has happened.
“As a family, this has broken us. You can’t recover from this.”
Bubacarr Dibba, 47, another of Fatoumatta’s uncles, who flew in from Germany after the fire, added: “There are many ways to remember her. I will always remember her through the videos and messages she sent of the children. She was someone that put everyone else before herself.
“I always thought she would pull through, that was our last hope. We had hoped up until the last minute. We thought it would be a long road to recovery but we thought she was going to make it.”
Barrow appeared at Nottingham magistrates court on Friday and was remanded in custody until Monday.