A father jumped from a window with a baby in his arms during a house fire which claimed the lives of four children, neighbours have said.
The blaze tore through the end of terrace home in the Highfields area of Stafford in the early hours of this morning.
Fire crews have now extinguished the flames but say four children died inside before they could be saved.
Two adults, believed to be the children’s parents, and another child were taken to hospital and are expected to survive the injuries they suffered.
Neighbours say the fire appeared to have started in one of the children’s bedrooms before spreading to the rest of the house.
Fire crews remain at the scene of a gutted house where four children lost their lives last night
Pictures from neighbouring houses show the flames in the end-of-terrace house last night
Police and fire crews are pictured at the scene of a fire which killed four children last night
Police say four children died in the blaze and two adults, believed to be the children’s parents, were rushed to hospital along with another child
A neighbour told the Daily Mirror that they believe a man jumped from a window with a baby or young child in his arms as the flames took hold.
Another local resident, Jason Stones, 48, said: ‘You could hear small pops and explosions coming from the house at about 2.30am.
‘My dogs woke me up. I looked out the window and smoke was pouring from the back of the house down the road.
‘My wife dialled 999 while I rushed outside and you could feel the heat coming up the road.
‘I couldn’t see anything else or hear anything because the street was suddenly full of fire engines and sirens going off.
‘They are a nice family, but I only know them to say hello to. It is a couple in their 20s or 30s there, I used to see the mum walking the kids to school.
‘One of them was in a pushchair but I think the others were of school age. It’s a terrible tragedy for the family.
‘I have kids of my own but you can’t imagine the pain they must be going through. I just feel so gutted for the family and those poor children. The house was absolutely gutted, they didn’t stand a chance.’
Pictures from the scene this morning show part of the building’s roof has collapsed inward
Neighbours reportedly heard the sound of a small explosion and looked out to see the fire
It is believed the house is owned by a local housing association, who have yet to comment on the fire.
Another resident said: ‘I was awoken by the sound of sirens and saw blue flashing lights illuminating the street.
‘I rushed out and you could see the flames straight away. I was offering people cups of tea or coffee, everyone was in the street – I just wanted to do what I could to help.
‘But you just feel helpless and when you hear that four children have lost their lives, it fills you with great sadness and we are all absolutely devastated.
‘The family haven’t been there that long, it must be about a year or so and they seemed very nice and friendly. It desperately tragic.’
Neither the names nor the ages of the children who died have been released by police, who say they are supporting the family involved.
A large number of fire crew vehicles are now parked around the house as the investigation into what caused the blaze continues
A fire ladder sits in the back garden on the home following the battle to tackle the fire last night
Pictures from the scene this morning show part of the building’s roof has collapsed and windows have been smashed.
Neighbours were reportedly woken by the sound of a small explosion and looked out of their windows to see the flames.
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: ‘At 2:40am this morning (Feb 5) police officers and colleagues from the fire and ambulance services attended a serious house fire in the Highfields area of Stafford.
‘A search at the property in Sycamore Lane is ongoing, but it is with great sadness we can confirm the deaths of four children at the property.
‘Two adults and another child are being treated in hospital. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.’
Police say the family of the children who died are being supported by expert teams
The police spokesman added: ‘Colleagues from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service are examining the scene as the investigation into the cause of the fire begins.
‘Our thoughts are with the family, who are being supported by specialist officers at this difficult time.’
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue are examining the scene and police have begun an investigation into the cause of the fire.
In a statement, police said: ‘Our thoughts are with the family, who are being supported by specialist officers at this difficult time.’
West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) were called by the fire service.
Two paramedic officers, three ambulances, the Trust’s hazardous area response team, the Merit trauma team and a Basics emergency doctor attended the scene.
Sycamore Lane, where the fire broke out, is in the middle of the Highfields housing estate, which is to the south-west of Stafford
A spokeswoman for WMAS said: ‘When crews arrived they found an ongoing serious house fire. Three occupants, two adults and a child, had managed to get out of the property.
‘All three patients were assessed and treated on scene by ambulance staff for non-life threatening injuries before being taken to hospital for further care.
‘Tragically, four children from the property were confirmed dead on scene. Our thoughts are with the family at this exceptionally difficult time.’
Local residents reacted with horror after police announced the deaths.
One Facebook user wrote: ‘Devastating news, thoughts go out the the family and the emergency service staff who were dealing with it.’
Another wrote: ‘OMG what awful news to wake up to this morning. Absolutely devastated! I don’t think there’s anything anyone can say right now.
‘But please, let’s pull together as a community and do the best we can for all those affected. Bless them all.’