Heartbreaking cards and letters written by grieving schoolchildren have been left outside a house where a young boy died and where his brother was critically injured in a horror blaze.
Brothers Paul and Jack Sykes were with their 44-year-old dad, Darren, when their home on Tennyson Close, Penistone, went up in flames.
Paul, nine, and his dad perished in the blaze but Jack was pulled out alive and rushed to hospital, where he was still fighting for life last night, his devastated mum, Claire, at his bedside.
Nestled among a swelling sea of flowers is a handwritten letter by Lexi Spencer, who describes herself as a ‘primary friend’ and urges 12-year-old Jack to ‘stay strong’.
She goes on to say ‘you can get through this’ and encourages him to ‘be brave’ before telling her pal ‘we all believe in you’.
Another letter attached to a bouquet of white carnations says: “We are praying for you Jack - keep fighting.” It goes on to describe Paul’s death as ‘a young life taken so tragically’.
One letter, in a young child’s writing, describes the Sykes family as ‘genuinely the nicest people’.
A police cordon remained in place around the charred remains of the house yesterday while forensic experts continued searching the property for clues.
Detectives said within hours that the blaze was being treated as suspicious, but that they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
The exact nature of how the horror unfolded has not yet been revealed.
One of the theories is that Darren may have started the blaze deliberately.
His marriage to wife Claire had broken down over recent months, leading to Claire moving out with the boys.
Detective Chief Inspector Craig Jackson, who is leading the investigation, said: “A joint investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing with our colleagues in the fire service.
“Our thoughts remain with the victims’ family at this incredibly difficult time.”
Rev David Hopkin, of St John’s Church, Penistone, who baptised Paul and Jack, praised teachers for the way they had helped local children come to terms with the blaze, revealing they had been painting and writing poetry to help them express their emotions.