Derby fire deaths: Church service held for children

The service took place at St George's Roman Catholic Church in Littleover, which is affiliated to the school the children attended

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A church service has been held in memory of five children killed in a fire at their home in Derby.

The children, four boys and a girl aged between five and 10, died in the fire in Allenton on Friday despite their father's attempts to save them.

A local resident has set up a charity to help raise funds for the family.

Police are continuing to question a man and a woman arrested on suspicion of murder.

The woman, 28, and man, 38, from Derby, were arrested separately on Friday.

The scene of the fire in Derby The children were sleeping upstairs when the fire began early on Friday

The children have been identified by police as 10-year-old Jade Philpott, John Philpott, nine, Jack Philpott, seven, Jessie Philpott, six, and Jayden Philpott, five.

Their 13-year-old brother, Duwayne Philpott, who was also in the house in Victory Road, remains in a critical condition in a Birmingham hospital.

Prayers for the children were read at a special service held at St George's Roman Catholic Church, which is affiliated to the school the children attended.

The Reverend Alan Burbidge, chair of governors at the St George's Catholic Primary School in Littleover, said staff had been trying to comfort pupils.

Start Quote

I think it's been a shock and the reality is just starting to set in now ”

End Quote Karen Hillier Local councillor

He said teachers had asked the children to write poems about their friends and had set up altars with candles and cards.

Local councillor Karen Hillier said the community was pulling together to give each other support.

She said: "In times like this when the emotion is felt it brings people together more.

"I think it's been a shock and the reality is just starting to set in now as well."

Local resident Bobby Sutherland, who has lived in the area all his life, said he was inspired to set up an online charity called Catch Me When I Fall to help pay for the funerals and anything else the family might need.

Mr Sutherland said: "I said to my missus they're going to have to pay about £10,000 when they get home - and that ain't right."

Mick Philpott Mick Philpott made "valiant attempts" to save the children, said police

He added that Mr Philpott "loved his children desperately".

Gavin Tomlinson, area manager for Derbyshire Fire and Rescue, said the parents had managed to get out of the house and were trying to get to the children, who had been asleep upstairs when the fire began, when fire crews arrived.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable of Derbyshire Police Steve Cotterill said: "There appears to have been some valiant attempts by the father [Mick Philpott] to resuscitate his children."

Mr Philpott, who was named locally, is believed to have 17 children.

His family were the subject of media scrutiny in 2006 when he asked the council for a larger house to accommodate his wife, girlfriend and 14 children.

In 2007 former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe spent a week living with the family as part of an ITV documentary and he also appeared as a guest on the channel's Jeremy Kyle Show.

Appeal for information

Following the fire Miss Widdecombe said: "Nobody would ever call him a bad father. I'm so sorry to hear the news and my thoughts are with the family."

Post-mortem tests are due to take place later and forensic specialists continue to examine the house.

Mr Cotterill said eight people were living in the house on a permanent basis, though other people may have stayed there on an ad hoc basis.

He said: "I want to stress that we are keeping an open mind in terms of the investigation - the arrests are only one aspect of the inquiry.

"It is paramount that we have a thorough investigation of the scene before we determine the cause of the fire.

"Our thoughts are with the parents and the family of the children for their tragic loss and for the community of Allenton, who would of course have known the children as they played."

Anyone with information about the fire has been asked to contact Derbyshire Police.

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