Tragic: Four children, aged one to 10, die in Melbourne house fire

Four children have died in a fire that tore through a home in Melbourne’s south-west, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

As investigators from the Victorian arson squad dug through the remains of the home on Mantello Drive in Werribee on Sunday, police confirmed a 10-year-old and three-year-old boy, and a six-year-old and one-year-old girl had died in the fire.

Emergency services were called to the fire at about 1am on Sunday. Despite about 40 firefighters attending the scene, crews described feeling “helpless” as they arrived, with Country Fire Authority official Damien Molloy telling reporters that by the time help arrived the blaze was “very well alight”.Police say the bodies of a 10-year-old boy, three old boy, six-year-old girl and one-year-old girl have been found inside the property

“Fire had already broken through the roof and was already coming out the front door,” he said. “It was likely to be a recovery situation from the outset.”

Molloy told reporters at the scene that crews were made aware that there were likely to be people trapped inside the home while en route to the scene. While it “upped the ante”, the collapse of parts of the roof meant it was unsafe to enter the home.

“With the distress of the parents and the eight year old, it was very difficult to get accurate information early on to be able to focus our search areas initially, externally, and then internally,” he said.

Witnesses reported neighbours attempting to help the family to free the children from the home, but Molloy said the extent of the blaze meant it was beyond the capacity of bystanders to assist.

“It was well beyond anything that a neighbour would be able to assist in without putting themselves in serious danger,” he said. CFA commander David Clancy said the heat from the blaze meant firefighters were unable to enter the house.

“Firefighters had a fairly arduous task to undertake the fire fight and were unable to conduct an internal attack due to the heat of the fire,” he said. One firefighter was taken by ambulance to hospital after experiencing chest pains, but Molloy said he believed the man had recovered.

Police said that the home was occupied by a family, and that the parents and another eight-year-old boy had managed to escape the fire. They were in hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

Detective senior sergeant Ashley Ryan told reporters that officers from the arson and explosives squad were conducting investigations at the scene, but did not comment on what may have caused the fire.

“It’s very early stages at the moment,” he said. “It’s a terrible set of circumstances, very difficult for members of the family, and our hearts go out to them. “But also very distressing for members of Victoria police and the emergency services, given the circumstances.”

The three survivors from the fire are all in hospital. Police said the man had serious smoke-related injuries while the woman is being treated for smoke inhalation. The eight-year-old boy has been taken to hospital with minor injuries.

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