Four children killed in house fire
Four young children, all under the age of 10, have died in a fire at their home in Derbyshire.
Neighbours of the family struggled to reach the two boys and two girls, who were brothers and sisters, as the blaze took hold on Monday night but could not open the front door of the property.
The children's 45-year-old mother, named locally as Rachel Henson, escaped and then tried, unsuccessfully, to get back into the house to rescue her children. She is being treated in hospital for smoke inhalation.
Two of the children were carried out of the house in Hulland Ward, near Ashbourne, by firefighters but could not be resuscitated. The bodies of the other two children were later found inside the semi-detached house in Highfield Road.
A police spokesman said the boys who died were aged nine and four, and the girls were six and two.
Their mother, who runs Boyz, a barber's shop in Ashbourne, had recently had work done on the central heating of the house which involved metal pipes being inserted into the chimney, a neighbour said.
The cause of the fire, which broke out on the ground floor at about 11.30pm while the children slept upstairs, is not yet known.
Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire Fire Service have launched a joint investigation and forensic officers have been gathering evidence at the property.
About 20 firefighters helped to bring the blaze under control, and Gavin Tomlinson, from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue, said the fire service was keeping an "open mind" as to the cause of the blaze, and could not say whether it was suspicious.
The first floor of the house was badly damaged by the fire, with two windows at the back pulled out and parts of the charred rooms inside visible. Two ladders were propped up against the wall and a children's see-saw and slide could be seen outside.