Parents in fatal family fire were badly injured before blaze took hold

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A married couple found dead with their two young children after a house fire in the Irish Republic suffered severe injuries before the blaze took hold. There was no sign of a break-in and a legally held shotgun was found in the charred shell of their home in a quiet village in the south-east of the country.

Dermot Flood, 41, was found dead in the downstairs living room where the blaze began, while his 38-year-old wife, Lorraine, died in the burnt-out upstairs bedroom. Both suffered massive injuries but Irish police insisted it was too early to say if they had been shot. No one else is being sought over the deaths.

The couple's children, Mark and Julie, died in the fire – the five-year-old daughter in her bedroom while the six-year-old son perished on the landing.

Three neighbours in the village of Clonroche, Co Wexford, broke windows in an attempted rescue as they waited for firefighters, but flames, heat and smoke forced them back.

A senior police spokesman said the bodies had been removed for post-mortem examinations in Dublin.

"There are other injuries on the bodies of Dermot and Lorraine," he said. "As to what those other injuries are we just cannot determine at this stage. It will be the post-mortems which will determine that."

Locals in the town said everything appeared normal in the family home.

Police forensic science experts have carried out preliminary examinations but visual inspections could not determine the cause of death or the fire.

There were no obvious traces of petrol or other flammable accelerants which may have been used to start the devastating blaze.

It is just three days since the first anniversary of an apparent murder suicide in Co Wexford which claimed the lives of a family of four in the nearby village of Monageer. Blind father-of-two Adrian Dunne, his wife, Ciara, and their two children were found at their home on 23 April last year, three days after the family visited an undertaker to arrange funerals.

For the past few years. Dermot Flood had been running his father's water filtration business. Lorraine was an aerobics instructor who ran keep-fit classes in the local parish hall.