Lebanese man donates food in honour of 'heroine firefighter fiancee' who died in Beirut port blast

Donations were handed out in the towns of Jdeideh and Qaa on what would have been the wedding day of Sahar Fares

Memorial service for Sahar Fares. courtesy: NNA
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The fiance of a 27-year-old firefighter who died in the Beirut port blast last August said he would distribute food parcels to the poor to mark their planned wedding day on Sunday.

In an emotional Facebook post, Gilbert Karaan paid tribute to "heroine" Sahar Fares.

“Our wedding cocktail will be to provide 100 food boxes in the two towns you loved the most, Jdeideh and Qaa – and some medical examinations for the elderly,” he wrote.

Ms Fares, a paramedic, became a symbol of Lebanon’s trauma after the blast. She was the only woman in the team of 10 firefighters dispatched by the Beirut Fire Brigade to extinguish a fire raging at the port early evening on August 4.

All 10 firefighters were killed after rushing to the port to fight the warehouse fire, unaware that the burning building housed a dangerous cocktail of chemicals, including thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

More than 200 people were killed and 6,000 injured in the explosion.

Senior government officials, including President Michel Aoun, later admitted that they knew that the ammonium nitrate had been stored unsafely there for years.

In media interviews in the aftermath of the explosion, Mr Karaan said he had been on the phone to his fiancee while she ran for cover after the fire intensified and stored items exploded. The line went dead as she ran.

The couple had been planning their wedding at the time. Photographs posted by Mr Karaan alongside his Facebook message showed Ms Fares smiling and wearing a white dress.

In another photo, she is wearing a green swimsuit and a banner across her chest that reads “bride to be”.

Before the blast the country had already been suffering from its worst-ever economic crisis.

An ongoing local investigation into the explosion has been marred with political interference.

FILE - In this Aug. 5, 2020 file photo, smoke rises after an explosion the day before at the seaport of Beirut, Lebanon. Lebanese judicial officials say Lebanon has received on Monday, May 31, 2021, a "preliminary report" from France regarding last year's massive port blast in Beirut that killed and wounded many. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

Days after the disaster, Fares’ friends and family bade her goodbye in her home town of Qaa in north Lebanon with the wedding party she would never have.

Sobbing, her fiance danced, sitting on the shoulders of relatives, as others held Fares' white coffin high, moving it to the beat of a drum.

Mr Karaan wrote: "Sunday was going to be the dream, the day I wanted to see you in your white dress, the day we had been waiting for after seven years of hard work and fatigue, the day we would be under one roof, me and you, and make the best family.”