‘Help, my baby’s not breathing’

The memorial service for Bola and Fiyin
The memorial service for Bola and Fiyin

A YOUNG mum died with her daughter in her arms while she begged a 999 operator to rescue her from a blazing house.

During the tragic conversation, revealed this week for the first time, terrified Bola Ejifunmilayo asked twice if she should jump with her toddler from the first floor window.

She was told to wait for the emergency services to save her. But, despite six fire crews, two support units and several police officers attending the scene, the promised rescue never came.

Bola, 29, and three-year-old Fiyin were both suffocated by smoke, almost certainly while still connected to the 999 operator in the early hours of September 5 last year.

Incredibly their bodies were not discovered in the multiple occupancy Fishermead house until 36 hours later, a fact that has left Bola’s family demanding an explanation. Next month an inquest will attempt to unravel the mystery of what went wrong that night and decide whether police or the fire service made a fatal mistake.

Meanwhile the Citizen can reveal the transcript of the anguished 999 call, produced to Bola’s family after a wait of almost six months.

“It was just so terrible,” said her sister Roseline. “The call must have lasted five or 10 minutes and she was begging, really begging, for help.”

First, said Roseline, Bola told the operator she was trapped in her bedroom because there was a “heavy fire” in the hallway outside.

Sensibly, she had already shut the door and the operator asked her to open her bedroom window to get oxygen into the smoke-filled room.

Roseline said: “It sounded like she was standing by the window with Fiyin in her arms. She said, ‘Should I jump? Should I jump with my baby?’ but the operator said no. Someone would rescue them, she said.

“Then Bola was crying. ‘Help me, help me,” she said. She was worried about Fiyin. ‘My daughter is no longer breathing. Please, I beg you to help,’ she said.

Clutching her child’s body, Bola then said she felt like she was falling over. The operator told her to hold on to something to steady herself.

“My sister said she was shaking. Then she said she couldn’t breathe,” said Roseline.

“The operator was trying to talk to her but Bola said: ‘I am going to die now. I need to pray.’”

After praying, the church-going mother’s final words were to her daughter. Roseline said: “Bola cried ‘Fi, I love you. Oh Fi, I love you, Fi....Fi...’ then the words faded out. The last thing she spoke was her daughter’s name.”

> The trial of a woman charged with starting the fire begins on Monday at Luton Crown court. Barbara Zhanje, 48, from Kettering, denies two counts of manslaughter.