A mother has been left "inconsolable" over the death of her nine-year-old son after a fire at their home early today.
Sheree McGill, 34, escaped herself, then tried to get into the house to rescue Evan and her other children but was held back by neighbours.
Her two younger daughters were rescued by firefighters and taken to hospital where they are said to be in a stable condition.
Fire crews were called to the terraced property in Altonhill Avenue, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, at around 3.20am today.
They rescued the three children on the upper floor after fighting through "intense heat and thick acrid smoke" to reach them.
The youngsters were taken to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock where the boy, named by family members as Evan Mohammed, died.
His mother and the rest of the family were being comforted at their grandmother's house nearby.
Ms McGill's sister, 31-year-old Lyndsay McGill, said Evan's older sister Talia, 15, had managed to escape from the burning building by putting a blanket over her head.
Lyndsay McGill said the whole family were in "utter shock".
She said: "We just can't believe it. It's not sank in. I've got children around the same age and they're all good friends.
"My sister is inconsolable. She doesn't know what to do with herself.
"We think the fire started in Evan's room. We think it was an electrical fault. He had a fibre-optic Christmas tree in there.
"My sister's bedroom is downstairs so she got out quickly. Talia was so smart, she put a blanket over her head to escape.
"Sheree tried to get back in when she realised her kids were still in there but some of the neighbours held her back.
"Thank god the two wee girls are okay. We're still just in utter shock about it all."
It is understood the children's father Saleem Mohammed no longer lives in the family home.
Family friends were arriving at the children's grandmother's house in tears.
Local shopkeeper Mohammed Anwar said Evan was in his shop yesterday. He described him as a "lovely" little boy and said he was always "full of life".
Mr Anwar, 46, said: "It's tragic. The whole family come in here every day and I just can't believe what has happened.
"They're always so friendly and nice and the kids are all lovely.
"The little boy was so cute, he had little dimples on his cheeks.
"I think the woman is a single mother, she works hard to look after the children.
"It really is unbelievable this happened just across the road."
By late morning one fire crew remained at the scene along with police officers.
Engineers from ScottishPower worked in the front garden to cut off power supplies to allow fire officers to carry out their investigation.
All of the windows were covered in black soot and one of the windows at the back of the house, which is believed to have four bedrooms, appeared to have melted.
Chris Wears, 31, who has lived in the area for seven years, said his niece was in the same class as Evan.
He said: "It's such a terrible thing to happen especially at this time of year.
"It is a real shock for the area.
"I had seen him about and he was a lovely wee boy. I don't know how the family will be coping."
Strathclyde Fire and Rescue's specialist fire investigation team will carry out a joint inquiry with Strathclyde Police to determine the cause of the fire.
Assistant chief officer Robert Scott, from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service, paid tribute to the crews for their bravery.
He said: "Our firefighters battled very hard to get up those stairs. You will see from the damage to the building that this was a very well developed fire that caused so much damage that plaster work had fallen from the walls and the intensity of the heat must have been extremely severe.
"However, having been told that there were children inside, the firefighters battled through that heat and smoke and fought very bravely to get upstairs and within a matter of minutes had all three children out of the house. Two young girls were treated on scene and taken to hospital.
"But very sadly, one young boy lost his life here and we will always remember that and give our sympathy to the family."
Wilson Brown, Strathclyde Police area commander for East Ayrshire, said: "The investigation is at a very early stage and we will be working very closely with our colleagues at the fire and rescue service.
"We will be carrying out a detailed examination of the house.
"The fire service were faced with a horrendous situation this morning."
Police said that investigations were at an early stage but that the blaze is not being treated as suspicious.