Four children die in Stafford house fire

Four children have died in a house fire in Stafford.

The blaze in the Highfields area of the town in the early hours also left another sibling and the parents injured.

The children have been named locally as Riley, Keegan, Tilly and Olly who are aged between three and eight.

The siblings' two-year-old brother Jack survived the blaze, along with his mother, Natalie Unitt, 24, and her partner Chris, 28.

Rob Barber, deputy chief fire officer for Staffordshire fire and rescue service, said a man, woman and baby jumped from the first floor window of the house.

Tearful neighbours said they heard "screaming" and saw flames "lashing" out the windows. A senior police officer described the blaze as "absolutely heartbreaking".

Tribute left at scene

 captionA handwritten note attached to flowers was left at the scene from the children's grandparents

Part of the roof has collapsed, windows were shattered and the rooms were left blackened by the blaze, which happened at about 02:40 GMT at the house on Sycamore Lane.

Staffordshire Police said Tilly was aged four and the three boys were aged three, six and eight.

Neighbour Wendy Pickering was in tears as she remembered the children, who she often saw while taking her granddaughter to school.

"It is a real shock," she said.

"We heard screaming, but we weren't sure if the children were in the garden."

Her husband Bryan said he was alerted to the fire by his dog barking during the night.

Map of the area"The flames were lashing out of the upstairs window," he said.

A hand-written note attached to a cuddly toy in an area nearby where people had laid down tributes read: "RIP Babes xx life is so so cruel. All our thoughts are with the family at this very sad time."

Another note read: "Will be dearly missed, love Uncle Dave and Auntie Lou Lou", while another added: "To my lovely grandkids I will always miss you. Love you always xxx."

The house from above

captionThe family are being supported by specialist police officers

Tarpaulin covers the house

 captionTarpaulin covers the house as crews carry out investigations

Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are examining the house as part of their investigation, but Mr Barber said he could not comment on a possible cause.

He added: "Our firefighters were faced with very difficult conditions inside the property due to the severity of the fire."

Ch Insp John Owen, of Staffordshire Police, expressed his sadness at the "tragic incident" on Twitter.

Absolutely heart breaking. Thoughts are with the family and friends of the precious lives that have been lost. Thoughts also with my colleagues in the police and fire who have been working at this tragic incident.

View image on Twitter

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: "When crews arrived they found an ongoing serious house fire.

"Three occupants, two adults and a child, had managed to get out of the property. Tragically, four children from the property were confirmed dead on scene.

"Our thoughts are with the family at this exceptionally difficult time."

Matthew Ellis, Staffordshire Commissioner for Police Fire and Crime, paid tribute to emergency services for working in "tragic and difficult circumstances in the middle of the night".

"For something like this to happen it's just heart-breaking," he said.

"It's very difficult to imagine just how professional and how dedicated these people are, but they are all human beings.

"Whilst they will all stay professional, this will affect all of those individuals who are involved in that for a long time to come."

Jeremy Lefroy, the Conservative MP for Stafford, described the fire as "unbelievably tragic".

The deaths of four children at a house fire in Highfields this morning is unbelieveably tragic. My deepest sympathies and prayers go to their families also sends her thoughts and sympathies. Thanks to all of the emergency services dealing with this tragedy.

ruby Posted on February 05, 2019 14:37

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