Hossein Koshkoye Delshad takes a deep breath before his sentences and exhales slowly as he speaks.
The 52-year-old is recovering in hospital after an apartment fire that killed his wife and eight-year-old son.
Delshad was left with serious burns on his arms, shoulders and head after Monday’s fire. His older son, Soheil, escaped safely.
Delshad invited a CBC reporter into his hospital room to tell his story, hoping to send a message to other families.
“Maybe, in the future, we can prevent this kind of tragedy,” Delshad said.
“If you bring up this stuff, maybe we can talk about it … If people care, maybe less people have to die.”
Flames broke out at the Mountain Village Garden Apartments in Lynn Valley in the middle of the night on Monday.
More than 150 people were told to evacuate the wood frame building immediately. Sixteen were hospitalized with injuries, some of which were serious.
Delshad’s wife and son, Narges Casnajad and Sepehr Delshad, were the only two people killed.
Delshad remembers waking up to the smell of smoke around 1:30 a.m. He realized how close the flames were when he stood up.
“The windows were breaking because of the heat,” he said.
The father woke up his children and wife and gathered everyone in the bedroom at the back of their second-story unit. He thought they could all jump from the window to a neighbour’s trampoline below.
“It would’ve been so easy,” he said.
“Unfortunately, my older son jumped, but my wife didn’t. My younger son didn’t.”
Delshad had left the bedroom to see if the balcony would be another option for the leap.
He tried to get back into the bedroom when he realized his wife and son hadn’t jumped, thinking he could persuade them — but he said the fire was too strong and he was forced back onto the balcony.
He leapt from there as firefighters arrived. Paramedics took him to hospital, where he’s been ever since.
Delshad is having surgery on Thursday to treat his burns. He’s expected to remain in hospital for at least two weeks.
Message to other families
Delshad and his wife, who also went by Elham, were married for 17 years. They moved from Iran to Canada in 2003.
Loved ones described her as the leader of their large extended family.
“Elham was a really kind person,” Delshad said. “Sometimes she would make me upset because she thought her duty was to make everybody happy.”
His son, Delshad said, was simply “a good boy.”
“He would pretend he is rough, but he wasn’t,” the father said. “I guess that every eight-year-old is like that.”
Delshad said he doesn’t remember hearing alarms the night of the fire.
The North Vancouver Fire Department is still investigating to find the cause. Officials are also looking into whether or not the building was equipped with working alarms and sprinklers.
Regardless of what they find, Delshad said he wants other families to learn from his loss.
“I would like everybody to know, these apartments, especially if they are wooden and old, they can be very dangerous,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter how careful or careless you are. What happened on June 10, I believe that proved it.”
With files from Tina Lovgreen