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Mother Survives Fire That Kills Four Children
A teenager and three young children have died in a house fire from which their mother was rescued.
Michelle Smith was led out of the property by firefighters after the blaze took hold at her home in Freckleton, Lancashire, on Saturday night.
Four of her children were also rescued from the property and taken to Preston Royal Infirmary but doctors were unable to save their lives.
They have been named by their grandfather as Reece, 19, four-year-old twins Holly and Ella Smith, and two-year-old Jordan.
Their mother, who has five other children, had celebrated her 36th birthday on Saturday.
A police spokesman would not comment on whether a party was held at the address in the evening.
Ms Smith's father, Keith, 56, said his daughter was now staying with relatives in the area.
Arriving at the scene, he said: "I found out about it on the news and heard there had been a fire at a house in Lytham Road and I started to think it might be Michelle and the kids.
"It's very shocking, these are such tragic circumstances. I don't know anything about what happened last night. They have lived here for about two and a half years - this was their grandmother's former home.
"I haven't had chance to speak to Michelle yet. It is just terrible. I last saw them all just after Christmas. I can't think of any reason why this has happened. It has just come as a big shock."
A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said Ms Smith had been living at the address since last summer.
The property, owned by Ms Smith's late grandmother, had been vacant for some time while a loft extension was built, the neighbour added.
A joint police and fire investigation is under way after the blaze.
Phil Cox, group manager for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said they were called to the house at 11.21pm.
As crews were heading to the property, they received calls saying people were trapped inside the property, including a number of small children."As soon as the crews arrived it seemed quite a chaotic scene with a lot of people outside quite distressed," he said.
"We sent in six firefighters who rescued four people and also led out one other person. We had police officers, fire officers and paramedics at the scene working on resuscitating the people brought out before they were taken to hospital.
"We would like to pass on our condolences to the family. There was a reasonable amount of smoke at the time, we were faced with quite a heavy smoke-logged building."
A spokeswoman for the service said firefighters used six breathing apparatus, one lighting unit and two hose reels as they tried to tackle the blaze.
She added that there was "50% fire damage to a wardrobe and 100% smoke damage to the upstairs of the property".
Sources said the cause of the blaze was not thought to be suspicious but investigations were ongoing.
Detective Andy Murphy, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: "We are trying to establish the cause of this fire. We are keeping an open mind at this stage as to what happened."