herald

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Four children die in birthday blaze at home

TRAGIC: Mother's agony as party fire claims young lives

Police are investigating the cause of a fire that killed four "lovely" siblings following a party to celebrate their mother's birthday.

Reece Smith (19), four-year-old twins Holly and Ella Smith and Jordan Smith (2), died after a blaze broke out at their converted bungalow in Lytham Road, Freckleton, Lancashire, on Saturday.

The four victims were taken to Preston Royal Infirmary but were all later pronounced dead.

Their mother Michelle Smith (36), who has five other children, was led out of the house by firefighters and was not thought to be injured.

She returned to the scene accompanied by police officers yesterday.

According to reports, a distraught Ms Smith said: "I have lost the lights of my life... where can I turn?"

Her father Keith Smith (56) said his daughter was staying with relatives in the area.

Mr Smith, who found out about the blaze on the news, said: "It's very shocking, these are such tragic circumstances.

"I don't know anything about what happened last night. They have lived here for about two-and-a-half years -- this was their grandmother's former home.

"I haven't had a chance to speak to Michelle yet. It is just terrible.



SHOCK

"I last saw them all just after Christmas.

"I can't think of any reason why this has happened. It has just come as a big shock."

Sources said that a birthday party took place at the house and it appeared those who got out safely were downstairs when the fire broke out.

Phil Cox, group manager for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said the service was called to the scene at about 11.20pm.

He said that members of the public rang to say that people -- including small children -- were trapped in the building as three fire engines were en route.

Six firefighters wearing breathing apparatus rescued the four casualties while another person who did not need medical attention was led out, said Mr Cox.

He said: "We would like to pass on our condolences to the family of the victims. It is a tragic situation that we have ended up here today.

"Subsequently there is now a full police and fire investigation to ascertain the cause of the incident and try to piece together what happened last night."

Ms Smith's former partner Colin Ostler, who has three daughters with her, said Reece "died a hero" trying to save his siblings.



DEVASTATED

Mr Ostler added: "Michelle is in shock, she's devastated, we all are, but it's not really hit her yet.

She's too upset to talk about it, the enormity of what's happened just hasn't sunk in."

He said his daughters had wanted to stay at their mother's house on Saturday night, and added: "Thankfully, we said no and I took them home, otherwise who knows what could have happened."

It is thought that some of the casualties were taken from a small room in the upstairs at the rear of the bungalow.

At the front of the property there was no apparent damage caused by the blaze and the scene was cordoned off while forensic officers began their investigations.

A number of floral tributes had been left outside. One read: "Michelle I'm sorry for your loss, with deepest sympathy. Love Becky Bashford and family xxx."

hnews@herald.ie

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