An investigation has been launched into the cause of a house fire that claimed the lives of four people, including two children.
Two women, 27-year-old Claire James and her friend Josie Leighton, 32, died in the blaze in North Wingfield, near Chesterfield, in the early hours of yesterday.
Two boys, thought to be Ms Leighton’s sons, Jordan and Tyler Green, aged 12 and nine respectively, also perished.
A seven-year-old girl, understood to be Ms James’s daughter Tia, was found by a neighbour in the back garden after she escaped with minor injuries.
Derbyshire Police said officers and fire service experts were still attempting to find out what sparked the fire.
Speaking near the scene, Chief Inspector Rick Gooch said: “We are now investigating the cause of the fire alongside our colleagues in the fire service and we are at the very early stages of the investigation.
“It is a tragic event. The impact on the community is obviously recognised and together we are working through that with the family.
“Specially-trained officers are working with the family at this incredibly difficult time.
“We have neighbourhood policing officers out on the ground speaking to neighbours and offering support and reassurance.”
Fire crews were called at about 5am by the neighbour who found the surviving girl.
The two women were pronounced dead at the scene, while the boys were taken to hospital, where medical staff made unsuccessful attempts to save them.
The surviving girl was treated for smoke inhalation.
Mr Gooch declined to say whether the fire was thought to have been started deliberately, and said it would be wrong to speculate about the cause while it was still under investigation.
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service area manager Kam Basi also addressed the media at a cordon near the scene in Williamthorpe Road.
He said: “Our firefighters battled quite arduous conditions within the premises, which was heavily smoke-logged.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families concerned.”
Mr Basi also refused to comment in any detail on the possible cause of the blaze.
“We are working alongside the police and we are looking at the cause of fire,” he said. “It is far too early at this time to say what that cause of fire was.”
Nearby residents spoke of their shock at the deaths on a road normally busy with traffic passing between Clay Cross and the M1 motorway.
Marjorie Marples, of Williamthorpe Road, said: “My heart goes out to the family of those who have died and to those people who were dear to them. It must be awful.
“I did not hear the sirens but my son-in-law and daughter-in-law couldn’t get to work easily because of the cordoned off area and I didn’t know what had happened.”
A woman who lives across the road from the victims, who did not want to be named, said: “I don’t think they have been living there long.
“My husband took the dog out at a quarter past five and came straight back in after seeing the fire engines.
“At first we didn’t know what had happened.”
Richard Markham-Smith, who also lives in Williamthorpe Road, said: “I was woken at about 6am because it was so quiet – this is normally a very busy road and I thought something was amiss.”
The 44-year-old added: “I saw three police cars at first, then a police van and the fire engines and I thought something really serious must have happened.
“It’s shocking, really, and your first thoughts are always with the family involved.”
Bob Currie, group manager from Derbyshire fire service, said: “It’s a massive tragedy not only for the community and the family but also the firefighters who have done their level best to give these people a chance.”