House fire kills three children as mother escapes

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The Independent Online

Three young children were killed when a fire swept through their terraced home while they slept.

Samantha Appleton, six, and her sisters Joanne, three, and Bethany, 17 months, died in the early-morning blaze at their home in Goole, East Yorkshire. Louise Appleton, the children's mother, escaped through a window into the garden and raised the alarm.

Firefighters braved heavy smoke and temperatures so high that their equipment started to melt. They found the sisters dead in the bedroom they shared. The mother spent several hours in hospital receiving treatment for mild smoke inhalation.

Diane Barker, 22, a friend of Ms Appleton, said: "I don't know what she's going to do now. This will kill her. She will be devastated and I don't know how she will cope."

The blaze started shortly before 2am. Neighbours were woken by the mother's screams for help as she broke out of the burning house.

Gary Jones, 36, who called the fire service, said: "Initially I thought it was somebody breaking in. I looked out of my window across the road and saw flames and smoke billowing out of the property.

"I went outside and could see the mother was crying and sobbing for her kids. She was saying they were still in there. There was nothing I could do, the flames were so intense. I just had to stand in the street. It was terrible."

Nick Grainger, station officer of Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, praised the four firefighters who attempted to save the children. He said: "I have been in the service for 18 years and have not known a fire as severe as this with such a loss of life. Their actions were truly heroic."