Derby fire: Community in shock at children's deaths

By Greig Watson
BBC News, Derby

image captionNeighbours and friends have been laying flowers at the scene on Victory Road

Victory Road in Derby is in shock after the death of five children in a fire at a semi-detached house.

There is soot on the front of the house and two open windows.

Residents try to go on with their lives despite the tragedy, being checked in and out of the police cordon by an officer with a clipboard.

One woman leaves, holding a bag of washing and she returns soon after with a bunch of flowers.

Teenagers on push bikes stop to look. One says aloud: "All the kids?" He shakes his head before cycling away.

"Five children," says nearby resident Edwin Billing. "We heard the fire engines but never guessed what was happening. That is tough news to hear."

Kay Moyo, who lives opposite, saw the tragedy unfolding.

"My children use to play with some of the children from the house. We were woken by the sound of sirens.

"The ambulance was parked outside my house. We saw smoke coming out of the windows. Then they started to bring the children out.

"They tried mouth-to-mouth on the children but you could see it was no good. I woke up my children and they were watching - it was terrible because they used to play together."

Muddafer Zarif, who also lives nearby, said: "I was woken by all the noise and the smoke was so thick I thought there was a fire in my back garden.

image captionResidents were being checked in and out of the road by police

"I ran round the corner to see a woman shouting "get them out, get the children out".

"The firemen went in the house and started bringing the kids out. That's when they asked us all to stand back because of the smoke and all the fire engines."

Another resident, Carver Zaria, added: "This is really bad, so tragic. I've been up and down that road and you see the kids playing. I can't believe some of them might be involved."

At around midday, one man - walking with a stick and supported by two friends - made his way slowly to lay the first bunch of flowers outside the house.

Police said the children's father, who was named locally as Mick Philpott, had made "valiant attempts" to save his children.

Daniel Walsh, a friend of Mr Philpott and his family, also visited the scene, laying flowers.

He said: "It's absolutely tragic. Any parent's worst nightmare.

"I didn't know his younger children. He had many children, as everybody knows, and he loved them all the same, no doubt."

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