15 October 2012

A mother and three children have died and two children are in hospital after a house fire in Harlow, Essex.

Firefighters were called to Barn Mead at 1.45am, where they found a house "well alight" with flames coming out of the front and back doors.

Five were rescued from the building but a spokeswoman for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the deaths, despite desperate efforts to save the victims.

Steve Foster, from the fire service, said: "Crews arriving at the scene did everything they could.

"They were faced with a rapidly developed fire and went straight into the burning building wearing breathing apparatus to bring people out as quickly as possible.

"Once casualties were out, they worked alongside ambulance teams to do all they could."

A spokeswoman for the service said the father was not at home when the blaze broke out, and that the four fatalities occurred at the scene.

She said: "We understand that firefighters brought them out of the house and were doing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) outside, and that they were confirmed dead at the scene.

"The incident is now in the hands of Essex Police."

A joint police and fire service investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the fire.

Initially four children were said to have died, but police later clarified that a woman had died with three children, while two children are in hospital, one of them in critical condition.
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