Family Remembers Father, Daughter Killed in Oakland Arson Fire

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The American Dream ended in tragedy over the weekend for a family from Yemen.

Flowers, candles and stuffed animals now line a wall outside a charred home in Oakland where police say a father raced back into the burning house to rescue his little girl early Saturday morning. They never made it out alive.

Now, family members from as far away as Alabama are in Oakland to mourn their loss.

"A hero guy," Abdul Naji said of his cousin, Esam Nagi. "Rescued his family."

Police say the three-story house, which is right across from Bishop O’Dowd High School, was intentionally set on fire. Inside the home were more than a dozen people, including the Nagi family – 37-year-old Esam, his pregnant wife, his mother-in-law, and the couple’s toddler, Aliyah.

Investigators have yet to say how the fire started. Police and the Nagi family did confirm that after Esam managed to get his pregnant wife and her disabled mother out of the burning home, he went back in for Aliyah.

"After like two or three minutes, you just heard, 'Help me, help me, help me,'" Tory, a neighbor, said.

Tory stopped by the house on Monday to drop off some candles.

"It just messed me up," he said. "Had me crying out here."

Police said the arson fire may be tied to a string of crimes linked to a deadly shooting at a nearby liquor store where Esam worked as a cashier.

"Very hard worker, minding his business, doesn’t bother nobody," Naji said. "Ask the community, ask the neighbors."

The family created a Launch Good page to help the family get back on its feet. Esam's wife, who is currently in the hospital for burn wounds, is just one week away from giving birth.

"Where is the justice? Where is the law? Where is the people? What type of crime is this?" Naji said.

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