A terrified wife who died in a horror house blaze alongside her mother and two young children after calling her husband at work to shout ‘fire, fire’ has been pictured in a family photograph which emerged today.
The Sri Lankan woman, named by relatives as Niruba, was killed along with her one-year-old daughter Shasna, four-year-old son Thabish and her own mother in the fire at her home in Bexleyheath, south-eat London, last night.
A brother-in-law escaped the flames by jumping from the top floor and breaking his legs.
The touching family photograph released this afternoon shows Niruba and her mother with the two children at a family event.
Last night the children’s devastated father, Yogan Thangavadivel, was too upset to talk about the tragedy. He was being comforted by a string of relatives at his sister’s home two miles from the scene of the tragedy in Bexleyheath, south east London.
Yogan, who works in an off licence, received a heart-breaking call from his wife at around 8.30pm on Thursday telling him their home was on fire. But the line went dead and he arrived back at the property to find his entire family had died.
He was later seen ‘screaming and crying’ and collapsing on the ground outside the house as fire crews worked to retrieve their bodies.
Neighbours said they watched helplessly as the blaze tore through the semi-detached home after starting downstairs.
A faulty fire alarm may have led to the devastating inferno, it was claimed, as police and fire investigators probe why no alert was sounded after suggesting the was not suspicious.
The young children are believed to have died in their beds while their mother was hauled out of an upstairs window at the property but could not be saved.
The victims are believed to have moved to the area three months ago, after the £425,000 property was taken off the market.
A group of relatives – three women and two men – broke down in tears on the road this morning and were comforted by police in front of the blackened 1930s three-bed.
Neighbours and well-wishers were also laying flowers at the scene, with one saying: ‘My heart aches for this loss of precious life to your family.’
A terrified wife who died in a horror house blaze alongside her mother and two young children after calling her husband at work to shout ‘fire, fire’ has been pictured in a family photograph which emerged today. The Sri Lankan woman, named by relatives as Niruba, was killed along with her one-year-old daughter Shasna, four-year-old son Thabish and her own mother in the fire at her home in Bexleyheath, south-eat London, last night
A group of relatives broke down in tears on the road this morning and were comforted by police in front of the blackened 1930s three-bed
Neighbours said they watched helplessly as the blaze tore through the semi-detached home after starting downstairs
Neighbours said they heard terrified children – thought to be a toddler and a boy of five or six – screaming and saw a ‘distraught’ man outside the home in Bexleyheath as it was ‘engulfed in flames’ last night
They told how the blaze tore through the semi-detached property after supposedly starting on the downstairs as they watched on helplessly
Builder Scott James said today the house was ‘quickly engulfed in flames’ as smoke blew out to the street from about 8.30pm
One of the windows has blackened glass in it while the other has been completely blown out during the horror blaze last night
A forensic officer enters a house through a window following a fire on Hamilton Road in Bexleyheath, south-east London
The officer opens the window carefully before stepping inside the burnout home, armed with a camera, mask and a helmet
A group of three women and two men broke down on the road this morning and were comforted by police in front of the blackened 1930s three-bedroom house
The police officer bends down to help up one of the group who appears to break down in tears while the others watch over her
Yogan’s cousin said the husband had been at work when he got the phone call from his panicked wife at around 8.30pm.
He said: ‘He got a call from his wife about 8.30pm. Then after the phone just cut off. It was just about the fire.’ The grandmother had been packing her bags to return to home to Sri Lanka today.
Another cousin, who gave his name as Jega said: ‘We’ve seen them recently at a wedding – two or three weeks ago. Happy children. It’s an accident you can’t prepare for.
‘I think he said that a call from his wife and she was just shouting, fire, fire and the call went dead. It went silent.’ He continued: ‘The mother-in-law was supposed to be flying back to Sri Lanka today.
‘What I heard is they were packing her stuff to get her to Gatwick today. They were upstairs – we don’t know exactly where but it might have started downstairs or in the staircase.
‘His brother-in-law was also upstairs, he jumped out of the window but he survived. It’s so sad. It’s so sad. Yogan can’t speak. It’s very sad – it’s impossible to describe what he’s going through.’
‘His brother-in-law is in hospital – no one has had the chance to speak to him yet. We’ve heard broken legs. It is a tragedy. You can’t prepare for these kinds of things. You never expect things to happen in the family.
The relative said Yogan had bought the property, which is near the home of his two sisters, only three months ago. The family are understood to have lived in the UK for more than 15 years.
A third cousin, who declined to give his name, said Yogan has now left hospital and is ‘very upset’.
Witnesses also told of the horror fire today. Builder Scott James, 44, said the house was ‘quickly engulfed in flames’ as smoke blew out to the street from about 8.30pm.
Mr James, whose home is a stone’s throw away from the scene, said he saw people standing against a wall and one man laying alongside the wall.
He said: ‘I got overwhelmed by smoke and then the whole house was engulfed. The downstairs was on fire and then the whole house went up. It was engulfed in flames. There wasn’t an explosion.’
The man who was by the wall was ‘distraught’, he added. Mr James said he was worried and told the neighbours to get back, with the fire brigade turning up shortly afterwards.
Mr James said firefighters ‘very quickly had ladders up to the windows,’ as they tried to rescue those inside, adding: ‘I am still in shock now about how quickly it all went.
‘I saw the mum pulled out of the top window by a fire crew.’
He said he saw the family only yesterday and had waved at them. ‘I spoke to them just to say hello,’ he added.
‘It was just pleasantries. It is very sad to wake up this morning and hear they have perished.’
Relatives are pictured at the scene of the house fire on Hamilton Road, Bexleyheath, on Friday morning following the blaze
A relative is pictured on the road outside the house this morning following the tragedy on Thursday night
One resident (not pictured) who lives nearby – and wanted to remain anonymous – said the family living in the property had only recently moved in
A man in a grey hoodie lays down flowers for the victims of the horror fire that ripped through the south east London house last night
A policeman adds to the pile of flowers building up on the end of the road where the cordon remained in place this morning
A policeman stands at the cordon in front of the gutted out house this morning as they launched an investigation into the fire
Tributes are seen at the scene of a house fire in Bexleyheath, today. One reads: ‘My heart aches for this loss of precious life’
A teddy bear left at the scene of a house fire on Hamilton Road in Bexleyheath, south-east London on Friday morning
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Cook makes a statement at the scene of a house fire in Bexleyheath, south-east London
One resident who lives nearby said he had been looking to buy the family’s property before their purchase.
He said: ‘It was on the market for £425,000 four months ago and I think it sold for more than that. It needed a lot of refurbishment. It’s quite strange to see what happened knowing I could have been living there.’
Another neighbour said: ‘It’s absolutely terrible. We saw the blue lights flashing and looked out to see all the commotion.
‘We could see they were trying to resuscitate somebody.’ A woman added: ‘It’s shocking We just hope they can find out what caused the fire.’
One local, who asked not to be named, claimed they saw paramedics administering CPR on Thabish before he died at the scene.
Irene, 70, told MyLondon: ‘I heard a loud bang at 5.30pm which shook me. Then at 8.30pm, I came outside to see ambulances and firefighters at the scene. The fumes were toxic.’
Mother-of-three Ling Han, 36, used to see the family as her garden backs onto theirs. She said: ‘I only knew it was a couple living there with their two young children. We would see them from our garden.
‘It was a little girl who was pre nursery, only two or three years old, and then a slightly older boy who I think was reception age.
‘One man seemed okay and went off in an ambulance around 10.30pm. He looked very sad and helpless. It was awful. I feel scared and I’m in shock. As a mum, it has really hit home.’
Six bouquets of flowers were left at the entrance to the road while two police officers remained stationed behind the tape this morning.
A fire engine was parked in the residential street between two large blue plastic sheets hung up to block the view from either end.
The windows of the burnt out semi-detached house, which is the first on the right from Pickford Lane, were visibly black and singed with glass missing.
Two women and two children have died in a fire at a house in south-east London, the London Fire Brigade said
Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters were called to a blaze at the house on Hamilton Road in Bexleyheath last night
Crews in breathing apparatus rescued two women and two children from the first floor using a 30ft ladder, but they all died at the scene
One man left the building before firefighters arrived and has been taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service
London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said: ‘This is a truly terrible incident which is both sad and shocking’
Six fire engines and around 40 firefighters were called to the horror blaze at the house on Hamilton Road last night.
Crews in breathing apparatus rescued the two women and two children from the first floor using a 30ft ladder, but they all died at the scene.
The home is near St Thomas More Catholic Primary School as well as Brampton Primary Academy and is not far from Bexleyheath Station.
Houses have sold recently for around £500,000 on the street, with the latest – a three-bed semi-detached – going for £480,000 in February 2020.
James Morford, London Fire Brigade’s Borough commander for Bexley, said at the scene today the children were ‘infant age’.
He said: ‘Last night, roughly about 8.30pm, we were called to a house fire. Crews attended very quickly from the local fire station. Immediately on the scene, they identified they needed extra resources. They were ordered.
‘Crews very quickly got to work using their tactics which they practice on a daily basis. From there they used a nine meter ladder and breathing apparatus to make access to the building and carry out four rescues.’
Asked what may have caused the fatal fire, Mr Morford said: ‘Unfortunately at this stage I can’t answer that. We don’t know.
‘I’ve got a fire investigation team that are going to come back later on this morning. Hopefully from there, with the help of our Met Police colleagues and our scientific advisor, we will be able to establish a cause.’
The Brigade was called at around 8.30pm and the incident was over by around 9.45pm
Fire crews from Bexley, Erith, Plumstead, Lee Green and Sidcup fire stations were in attendance
Firefighters are pictured on the scene as they rushed to try to save the people at the house last night
Emergency services pack the road outside the house as they worked to clear the fire and help the people
Police taped off the area and kept watch overnight as they began their investigations
London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said last night: ‘This is a truly terrible incident which is both sad and shocking.’
He added: ‘Our thoughts are with the family, friends and local community at this difficult time.’ The Brigade was called at around 8.30pm and the incident was over by around 9.45pm.
Firefighters from Bexley, Erith, Plumstead, Lee Green and Sidcup fire stations were in attendance. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
A Met Police spokesman said: ‘Police were called at approximately 8.30pm on Thursday to reports of a fire at a residential address in Hamilton Road, Bexleyheath.
‘London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service attended with officers. Two adult women, and two children – believed to an infant boy and girl – were pronounced dead at the scene.
‘Their next of kin have been informed. A man remains in hospital with injuries to his legs. His condition is not thought to be life-threatening.
‘A further person was taken to hospital by LAS after he arrived at the scene. Next of kin are aware and receiving specialist support.
‘The deceased are all believed to have been related to each other. At this early stage, the cause of the fire is not thought to be suspicious and there have been no arrests.’
Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry, head of policing for Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich said: ‘Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased, who have suffered such an awful and devastating loss.
‘We have officers in the location and I know these sentiments are shared by residents across the Bexley and London as a whole.
‘Our inquiries are ongoing and we will continue to work with our colleagues in the London Fire Brigade to fully understand the cause of this terrible incident. In these very early stages we don’t believe the cause of the fire is suspicious.’
Bexleyheath and Crayford MP Sir David Evennett tweeted: ‘Shocked and saddened by the tragic house fire in Bexleyheath. Our condolences and thoughts are with the family and friends.’
Sadiq Khan said: ‘I am heartbroken to hear that two women and two children tragically lost their lives in a house fire in Bexleyheath last night. My heart goes out to their loved ones and the local community at this awful time.’