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House blaze victims named

Police have named two women and two young boys who were killed in a house fire today.

Claire James, 27 and Josie Leighton, 32, were pronounced dead at the scene of the blaze at Williamthorpe Road, North Wingfield, near Chesterfield, while Tyler Green, nine, and Jordan Green, 12, were pronounced dead later at Chesterfield and District Royal Hospital.

A seven-year-old girl who was taken to hospital suffering from minor smoke inhalation has been discharged.

Derbyshire Police said officers and fire service experts were still attempting to establish the cause of the fatal fire.

Police said specially trained officers are giving support family to members and neighbourhood policing officers are speaking to neighbours and offering support and reassurance.

Chief inspector Rick Gooch said fire crews - who were alerted by a neighbour at about 5am - found the surviving girl suffering from the effects of smoke in the back garden of the property.

The officer declined to say whether the fire was thought to have been started deliberately, and said it would be wrong to speculate about the cause while it was still under investigation.

He said: "We are now investigating the cause of the fire alongside our colleagues in the fire service and we are at the very early stages of the investigation.

"It is a tragic event. The impact on the community is obviously recognised and together we are working through that with the family."

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service area manager Kam Basi also addressed the media at a cordon near the scene in Williamthorpe Road.

He said: "Our firefighters battled quite arduous conditions within the premises, which was heavily smoke-logged.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families concerned."

Mr Basi also refused to comment in any detail on the possible cause of the blaze.

"We are working alongside the police and we are looking at the cause of the fire," he said. "It is far too early at this time to say what that the cause of fire was."

Nearby residents described their shock at the deaths on a road normally busy with traffic passing between Clay Cross and the M1 motorway.

A woman who lives across the road from the victims said: "I don't think they have been living there long.

"My husband took the dog out at a quarter past five and came straight back in after seeing the fire engines.

"At first we didn't know what had happened."

Richard Markham-Smith, 44, who also lives in Williamthorpe Road, said: "I was woken at about 6am because it was so quiet - this is normally a very busy road and I thought something was amiss."

He added: "I saw three police cars at first, then a police van and the fire engines and I thought something really serious must have happened.

"It's shocking really and your first thoughts are always with the family involved."

Mr Markham-Smith said of the child who survived the fire: "I just cannot comprehend what she's going through."

The fire service was alerted at 4.58am and appliances from Clay Cross, Chesterfield and Staveley attended, with the first crew arriving eight minutes after the first 999 call.

Post mortem examinations will be carried out tomorrow, police said.



From Belfast Telegraph