Update: Fourth child dies from Essex house fire, police treating blaze as suspicious

A FOURTH child has died following a house fire in Essex in the early hours of this morning.

Detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate are treating the fatal fire, which broke out in a house in Barn Mead, Harlow at around 1.40am this morning, as suspicious.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service brought the occupants out of the house and emergency service personnel gave immediate emergency treatment.

Despite their efforts, two boys aged 13 and six, a girl aged 11 and a woman were declared dead at the scene.

Two more children, a nine-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, were taken to hospital, one in a critical condition. Essex police have confirmed that a fourth child has now died.

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Essex County Fire and Rescue Service assistant divisional officer Steve Foster, incident commander, 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.

“Fire investigation teams are now working with police to establish how this tragedy happened and our thoughts are with those the family left behind.”

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The cause of the fire is under investigation and detectives are looking at the circumstances leading up to the fire.

Senior investigating officer detective superintendent Rob Vinson said: “This is the still the early stages of our investigation into the tragic death of five members of one family, a mother and four of her young children. At this time we are investigating to see whether this fire was started deliberately and need anyone with information to contact us.”

As fire crews arrived at Barn Mead around 1.40am, they also found a car alight a short distance away in a car park. This car is not connected to the family involved in the house fire. However this car fire is being treated as arson. The house will be forensically examined by specialist scientists to find how and where the fire started.

D/Supt Rob Vinson added: “For the sake of the family, who are trying to come to terms with this tragic incident, I would ask for information from the public, especially in the Harlow area, to help us determine exactly what has happened.”

Police are asking anyone who was in the area of Barn Mead in the early hours of this morning and who may have information, to contact detectives at Harlow Major investigation team on 101 or e-mail SCDappeals@essex.pnn.police.uk

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