Deptford fire: Boy, 7, found dead after 'suspicious' blaze

Image source, Family handout
Image caption,
Joel Urhie's body was found inside the house after the blaze in Deptford

A seven-year-old boy has died in a "suspicious" house fire.

Joel Urhie's body was found after a "very severe fire" in the house in Adolphus Street, Deptford, south-east London, in the early hours of Tuesday.

His father John said: "It's terrible, the pain we cannot forget."

Two women jumped to safety from the first floor, while 35 firefighters were sent to the scene, London Fire Brigade (LFB) said. Police have launched an arson investigation.

The Met said it was working with fire investigators and had "deemed the fire as suspicious".

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Scotland Yard has launched an arson investigation

Speaking outside the house Mr Urhie described his son as "a very lovely boy who was just loving life".

The 54-year-old said he moved out of the family home about five years ago but had been called at about 04:00 BST to say there had been a fire.

"When I came, the first thing I saw was my daughter inside the ambulance. They said, 'Joel's dead', and there's nothing I can do about it," he said.

Family friend Grace Gbenedio, 56, said she rushed outside her nearby home after hearing screams.

Mrs Gbenedio said she held Joel's mother, Sophie Urhie, who said: "My son is inside."

"She was on the floor crying, 'help, help, help'," Mrs Gbenedio added.

"The fire was just too much, like a curtain, no-one could go in or out," she said.

"We heard the last blast of the glass and she just collapsed."

Image source, @jenniP1v
Image caption,
Joel Urhie's body was found after a "very severe fire"

Neighbours have spoken of their shock at Joel's death.

A family friend, who asked not to be named, described Mrs Urhie as "an angel" who "would come to anyone's aid".

"She doesn't deserve this. She's so nice," she said.

Media caption,
Andre Pavanello and Kayla McClellan, who live next door, said they were woken by screaming

Fire crews were called shortly before 03:30 and it took more than 75 minutes to bring the flames under control.

Clive Stagg, who lives in a nearby flat, said he had rushed to the house after hearing a woman screaming and discovered "all hell was breaking loose".

"I have never seen anything like it. The whole house was ablaze," he said.

At the scene: Thomas Magill, BBC London News

Image source, PA
Image caption,
London Fire Brigade said the cause of the fire was "under investigation"

Friends and neighbours say the family affected by this tragic blaze are "lovely".

One said Joel would often play outside during the summer holidays.

All morning neighbours have been gathering on street corners offering each other hugs and support.

Many of them have been visibly upset, struggling to come to terms with the news that a young boy has lost his life.

Kayla McClellan lives next door to the family and said that as she tried to leave her house "a wall of fire came through the front and we immediately closed it and went out through the back".

Mrs Urhie is in hospital with her daughter, Sarah, 19. Their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

The ground floor of the house was badly damaged by the blaze, as well as the whole of the first floor and the stairs from the ground to the first floor.

Surrounding homes were evacuated as a precaution. LFB said the cause of the fire was "under investigation".

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