THERE was joy at last for the tragic Riaz family when a baby was born on the second anniversary of the horrific fire which killed five people.
And Barry Khanan, the brother of Caneze Riaz, who died in the fire at her home in Tremellen Street, Accrington, along with her four daughters, paid tribute to the victims by naming his newborn daughter after them.
Barry, 40, a printer in Blackburn, and girlfriend Vicky Entwistle, 30, a care worker in Bolton, have called her Sascha – which stands for Sayrah, Adam, Sophia, Caneze, Hannah and Alicia, each of the family members who died.
The family was murdered by Caneze’s husband Mohammed Riaz, 49, who started the fire using petrol after being unable to accept their westernised ways.
He himself suffered horrific burns in the blaze and died later in hospital.
Caneze’s son Adam Riaz, 17, died from leukaemia at the Christie Hospital, Manchester, just weeks after the fire.
The healthy 8lb 2oz baby was born just one day after the second anniversary of the devastating blaze. Her middle name, Angel, was chosen by Craig and Kallum – Vicky’s children from a previous relationship.
Barry, formerly of Countess Street, Accrington, who moved to Bolton after the tragedy, said: "The name works perfectly. We wanted to honour the family but we didn’t want to choose a name that showed favouritism. My girlfriend changed the order of the initials and came up with Sascha.
"The birth of Sascha has cheered the family up a little. My mum June now has a granddaughter again and she’s really happy.
"Before she died, my sister Caneze was always asking my when I would give her a niece or nephew. It’s just a shame she can’t be here to see her.
"This last year has been really difficult. In the first year we were dealing with the media and the insurance but this year it’s just been us with our thoughts. The loss seems more than it did last year.
"For the anniversary we went to the cemetery and put flowers down. But I spent most of the weekend at the hospital because Vicky was in labour. She was induced two weeks early on Friday but didn’t give birth until Sunday."
Tomorrow (Saturday), the anniversary of the funeral, close friends and family will be holding prayers and a meal – an Asian tradition. It will be a small gathering of about 40-60 people but others across Accrington are expected to say their own prayers.
Since the tragedy, Barry and June have seen specialist counsellors to help them get over the loss. Barry admits to consulting an anger management therapist.
He added: "I was angry that I was still around and they weren’t. I was angry that they had gone and that we lost Adam too in the end. My mum lost her daughter and all her grandchildren. Without a family it’s an empty existence."