Video: Chesterfield heartbreak

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Shocked neighbours in a tight-knit community were pulling together an appeal today for the seven-year-old girl who survived a horror house fire which killed her mum, two little boys and the boys’ mother.

The girl - named by locals as Tia - is the daughter of Claire James, aged 27, who died in the house fire.

Josie Leighton

Josie Leighton

Claire’s friend Josie Leighton, 32, and Josie’s two sons Jordan, 12, and Tyler, nine, all also perished.

Tia is believed to have escaped the flames and deadly smoke through a window, and was found in the back garden by the first fire officers on the scene.

She was being treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries in Chesterfield Hospital yesterday.

Today, as locals struggled to come to terms with the tragedy, one woman said an appeal for Tia was being planned.

Claire James

Claire James

Laura Batterham from Chesterfield wrote online: “RIP to the children and adults who have perished, and I hope and pray that little girl gets all the love and support she needs to get through this heartbreaking time.

“North Wingfield is very close-knit, and already arrangements are being put in place for people to be able to donate toys and clothes.

“I know it won’t even begin to replace what she’s lost, but we want to help.”

Emergency services were called to the house on Williamthorpe Road in North Wingfield near Chesterfield yesterday at around 5am.

Neighbours told The Star of their shock and sadness, as inquiries continued today into the cause of the blaze.

Police yesterday would not speculate on whether the fire was arson.

At a press conference at the scene, Chief Inspector Rick Gooch said it would be wrong to speculate while the tragedy is under investigation.

“We’ve got a large team working on this, and a joint investigation into the cause is being carried out by the fire service and ourselves,” he said.

“Clearly a tragedy of this nature has a huge impact on the community, so we have neighbouring policing officers out on the ground speaking to neighbours and offering support and reassurance.”

Yesterday, as the street crowded with emergency vehicles, neighbour Rebecca Reynolds, aged 39, said: “I just feel so terrible for that poor little girl, how will she ever recover from that?

“I heard the sirens at about 5.20am and knew something must be really wrong for sirens to be blaring at that time.”

Another neighbour, Sandra Wilson, told The Star she was struggling to make sense of such a tragedy.

“Things like this just don’t happen in the place where you live, do they? This is such a sad day,” said the 69-year-old.

“It is awful. It is terrible something like this should happen on your own street. It obviously makes you worry what the cause is.”

Neighbour Andy Markham-Smith, 51, said Williamthorpe Road is normally a quiet street where ‘nothing much ever happens’.

“It’s just unbelievable, I still can’t believe it,” he said. “There’s been such a strange atmosphere. My thoughts are with that poor family.”

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service area manager Kam Basi added: “Our firefighters battled quite arduous conditions within the premises, which was heavily smoke-logged.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families concerned.”

Bob Currie, group manager from Derbyshire Fire Service, said: “It’s a massive tragedy, not only for the community and the family but also the firefighters who have done their level best to give these people a chance.”

Headteacher Simon Dorman, of North Wingfield Primary School – where at least one of the dead children is thought to have been a pupil – issued a statement yesterday which said: “Four people have tragically died. Our thoughts are with the family.”