Blaze tragedy mother released from hospital

A woman whose four children died in a fire at their home has been released from hospital.

The 45-year-old woman, named locally as Rachel Henson, was treated in hospital for smoke inhalation following the blaze at the house in Hulland Ward, near Ashbourne, Derbyshire.

Her children, all under the age of 10, died after the fire, which engulfed the property while they slept upstairs at about 11.30pm on Monday night.

Ms Henson escaped and then tried unsuccessfully to get back into the house to rescue her children.

Neighbours struggled to reach the two boys and two girls as the fire swept through the house but could not open the front door of the property.

Her sister Rebecca, 45, told reporters: "She loved her children. She was a single mum but not on benefits. She worked her backside off for her kids."

Two of the children, named locally as Tommy, aged nine and Appolonia, two, were carried out of the house by firefighters but later died in hospital.

The bodies of the two other children, named by family members as Aleisha, six, and Rocco, four, were later found inside the semi-detached house in Highfield Road.

A spokesman for Derbyshire Police confirmed Ms Henson had been released from hospital and had been told about the deaths of her children.

Grandfather Tony Nulty said: "I just can't believe it. They were two beautiful little children."

Mr Nulty, 60, from Carmarthenshire in Wales, told the BBC his son Lee was devastated.

"Lee saw Aleisha and Rocco most weekends and was a loving dad," he said.

"My son called me at 4.30 in the morning to say what had happened.

"He was very upset and crying on the phone. The police had just come round in the early hours to say there had been a fire and his children had died."

The cause of the fire, which broke out on the ground floor while the children slept upstairs, is not yet known. Derbyshire Constabulary and Derbyshire Fire Service have launched a joint investigation.

Chief Supt Peter Lewis said there was no reason to believe that rumours circulating in the local community that a former partner of Ms Henson had previously threatened to set fire to her house were true.

He said: "I've got to say any speculation with regard to that at this stage would be unhelpful.

"We have got no evidence of such threats but obviously everything we hear we are looking into."

About 20 firefighters helped to bring the blaze under control.

Gavin Tomlinson, from Derbyshire Fire and Rescue, said of the neighbours' attempts to help: "I'm aware that they did try to get into the door on the ground floor but it was locked. We effected the rescues from the first floor using a ladder."

He said the fire service was keeping an "open mind" as to the cause of the blaze, and could not say whether it was suspicious.