Three children killed in house fire

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The Independent Online

A community was in shock today after three children died in a house fire in a seaside town.

Neighbours and members of the emergency services fought in vain to revive the youngsters after they were pulled "like little rag dolls" from the burning building by firefighters.

They were in a property in Clarence Avenue, Bridlington, East Yorkshire, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service said.

Fire crews and police were called to the cul-de-sac at 11.58pm yesterday.

The children's mother, named by police as 27-year-old Samantha Hudson, was also taken from the house.

She is in a critical condition in hospital in Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

Sources said the children were aged three, five and nine.

Superintendent Mike Duggleby, of Humberside Police, said: "Police, fire service and forensic experts are investigating the cause of the fire. I can say that we believe the fire started within the house and there is nothing to indicate that it was started deliberately."

He added: "Our hearts go out to the families, friends and neighbours who knew the family and the many neighbours who came out to assist us and try to attempt rescue last night. I personally want to thank them for their assistance, bravery and their courage."

This morning the three-storey terrace property was cordoned off with police tape as forensic experts examined the scene.

Nurse Lesley Salisbury, 59, described how she helped perform first aid on the youngsters and ended up going to hospital herself.

She said she ran out in her dressing gown after she was woken in the night, but first thought smoke filling the street was fog.

She said: "I saw flames coming from the bottom of the house and I ran out. To be honest I just can't remember getting from my house to there. But a firefighter brought out a little boy.

"I told him I was a nurse and I started to work on him. I think I just went into nurse mode.

"I was doing chest compressions and the firefighters were doing the oxygen. After that it was just a blur, a dreadful blur.

"Some of the neighbours said I worked on the other two as well but I don't really remember.

"I do remember the firefighters bringing them out, they were like little rag dolls."

Mrs Salisbury, who works as a nurse at Hull Prison, added: "It is just an awful tragedy."

She said she believed that she, firefighters and paramedics worked on the children for about an hour.

Referring to the little girl who died, she said: "She was a little angel, a beautiful little girl."

Mark Rhodes of Humberside Fire and Rescue Service described the tragedy as "probably the most difficult, most challenging type of incident that we can ever be expected to deal with".

He said: "I don't think anybody in their career ever expects to face the trauma of a fire involving children and the very difficult working conditions of last night.

"The extent of the fire damage is considerable, the property was very heavily smoke-clogged when fire crews arrived. Breathing apparatus teams were inside the building inside five minutes.

"They carried out a very thorough search of the building and recovered casualties from the upper floors.

"The casualties were brought outside the building and both fire crews and neighbours worked tirelessly on carrying out resuscitation alongside the paramedics."

Neighbour Dan Bemrose, 77, who was asleep when flames ripped through the building, said: "It's really tragic. The first thing I knew about it was when I went down for my papers this morning.

"It looks as though it's been completely burnt out. The bottom floor looks as though it's a shell."

The retired pensioner, who lives just 20 yards from the property, said he did not know the occupants.

Neighbour Edith Dawson, 86, said she watched as "fierce" flames tore through the property.

"It's heart-breaking. I had seen the children playing in their grandmother's back yard. They hadn't been in the house all that long, probably no more than six months," she said.

"It was terrible, with the wind as well, it was so fierce. There were flames coming from the top and you couldn't see for the smoke. It was terrible. It must be heart-breaking for them, and so near Christmas."

She said the fire appeared to have been put out by about 3am.