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Father of twin girls killed in house fire reveals his battle to break down locked door

The distraught father of twin girls killed in a horror house fire has revealed how he desperately struggled to break down a deadlocked door to save them – and the unthinkable moment he realised they were dead.  

Aisha and Lailani, three, died when raging flames engulfed their family’s housing commission home in Batlow, in southern New South Wales, at about 11am on Monday.

Their mother Tanyka Ford, 29, and five-year-old brother Dominic were forced to watch in horror as the blaze took hold. The twins had locked them outside.  

Their father, Geoffrey Dubois, 28, who was not at the home, received an earth-shattering phone call as the blaze took hold and raced to the house ‘like a madman’.

Aisha and Lailani, three, died when raging flames engulfed their family’s housing commission home in Batlow, in southern NSW, at about 11am on Monday

Geoffrey Dubois (pictured), the devastated father of twin three-year-old girls killed in a horror house fire, tried desperately to break down the locked door as the fire tore through the home

Geoffrey Dubois (pictured), the devastated father of twin three-year-old girls killed in a horror house fire, tried desperately to break down the locked door as the fire tore through the home

‘I got the call when I was in town in Tumut and drove like a madman at 180km/h. I saw firemen and ambulances. I tried to break in but people pulled me away,’ he told The Daily Telegraph.

‘Then I saw a paramedic carry one of the girls out in a blanket, her foot was charred, she was black. That was my baby, I think it was Aisha, I’m lost, I don’t know what to do or think, it hasn’t sunk in… I want my babies.’ 

Mr Dubois said he felt ‘big pain’ in his heart as soon as he received the call and said he would never recover from the heartbreak.   

The little girls had been playing inside the front room near a log fire when their mother realised a cushion had caught alight. 

She rushed to snatch it off them and, in the process of taking it out the front to extinguish the flames, was locked out of her home.

The little girls had been playing inside the front room near a log fire when their mother realised a cushion had caught alight

The little girls had been playing inside the front room near a log fire when their mother realised a cushion had caught alight 

Aisha and Lailani had playfully deadlocked the door, but their mother was unable to coax them into opening it again.

Ms Ford was forced to stand on the footpath with little Dominic as she watched the roof cave in and flames engulf her home. 

Firefighters managed to force their way into the property, but it was too late to save the toddlers.  

Ms Ford said she ‘hated herself’ for not being able to do more to help them. She tried to smash through a window, but cut her arms on the glass.  

‘Mummy’s beautiful babies. I miss you more than words can describe right now I’m absolutely gutted and hate myself for not being able to help more,’ she said. 

‘I don’t know how I will ever be able to comprehend how this could have happened please let this be a terrible mistake please tell me my babies okay.’

The mother was still in shock that her twin girls, who died from smoke inhalation while holding hands in the front room, were gone.

The fire is believed to have started from a wood fire and by the time firefighters arrived and forced their way inside the home, it was too late to save the girls

The fire is believed to have started from a wood fire and by the time firefighters arrived and forced their way inside the home, it was too late to save the girls

Their mother Tanyka Ford, 29, (pictured with the twins) and five-year-old brother Dominic were forced to watch in horror as the blaze took hold

Their mother Tanyka Ford, 29, (pictured with the twins) and five-year-old brother Dominic were forced to watch in horror as the blaze took hold

‘Sadly as much as I pray nothing I say or do can bring back my babies,’ she said.

‘The pain is unbearable.’ 

The girls’ aunt Tammy Dubois said the twins often deadbolted the door to play games with their family. 

‘They were always doing it, the cheeky monkeys, they thought it was hilarious. They had learnt how to lock the door from inside but couldn’t unlock it whenever we asked them. It was part of them messing around,’ she said. 

Police on Tuesday confirmed they would be speaking to both Ms Ford and Mr Dubois. 

Riverina Police Commander Bob Noble said investigators had already met with Ms Ford on Monday night, who was ‘distraught and traumatised’.

‘We’ll have a more in-depth conversation if she’s well enough with the mother today – there is the father of these children who we’ll be speaking to, and neighbours,’ Commander Noble said.  

Experts from the NSW State Crime Command arson squad have been at the scene and will be assisting local detectives in their investigation.

Riverina Police Commander Bob Noble said investigators had already met with Ms Ford who was distraught over the deaths of her twin daughters (pictured)

Riverina Police Commander Bob Noble said investigators had already met with Ms Ford who was distraught over the deaths of her twin daughters (pictured)

The twin girls died from smoke inhalation and were found together holding hands inside the home (pictured)

The twin girls died from smoke inhalation and were found together holding hands inside the home (pictured)

Fire and Rescue NSW Superintendent Thomas Freedom said officers would keep ‘an open mind’ during the early days of the investigation and hope Dominic can provide crucial information. 

‘The mother and the young child that were here at the time will provide information that will be critical to investigators and that’s our starting point but I assure you that won’t be the end point,’ he said.

‘It’s difficult for investigators to interview young children, particularly in an instance where that young child has lost two siblings.’  

Commander Noble said: ‘What we obviously have is two young children who have died. Obviously the mother of the children was present at the time of the fire, as was an older sibling.

‘We need to approach this from an objective point of view and keep all possibilities on the table.’ 

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of either parents or any other family member. 

Aisha and Lailani's (pictured left and right) shattered family have already raised more than $8,700 through a GoFundMe page for Ms Ford

Aisha and Lailani’s (pictured left and right) shattered family have already raised more than $8,700 through a GoFundMe page for Ms Ford

Ms Ford's heartbroken mother Michelle, who lived in the nearby town of Tumut, paid tribute to her grandchildren on Facebook on Monday night (pictured)

Ms Ford’s heartbroken mother Michelle, who lived in the nearby town of Tumut, paid tribute to her grandchildren on Facebook on Monday night (pictured)

Ms Ford’s heartbroken mother Michelle, who lived in the nearby town of Tumut, paid tribute to her grandchildren on Facebook on Monday night.

‘RIP nanny’s little angels, miss you so much,’ Mrs Ford wrote.

Ms Ford’s aunt Melanie said any donations would help the family, who lost everything in the fire.

‘My niece Tanyka Ford lost her beautiful twins in a devastating house fire,’ she wrote.

‘If anyone can help out with a donation no matter how small it is. Words can’t begin to describe her pain and loss right now.’

Adding to the difficulties for NSW Police investigators is the danger of entering the home, which is unstable as a result of the fire. 

Aisha and Lailani’s shattered family have already raised more than $8,700 through a GoFundMe page for Ms Ford. 

‘My sister tragically lost her three-year-old twin daughters in a house fire, which claimed not only the lives of these two young children but also their home and belongings,’ the twins’ uncle Levi wrote.

‘Her son has lost all the belongings including toys and clothing… Losing everything is hard enough without having to worry about financials.

‘Anything no matter how small would be appreciated.’

Experts from the NSW State Crime Command arson squad have been at the scene (pictured) and will be assisting local detectives in their investigation

Experts from the NSW State Crime Command arson squad have been at the scene (pictured) and will be assisting local detectives in their investigation

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