South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have said it was unlikely a definitive answer to what sparked the fire which tore through a house in Wake Road, Sharrow would be announced today.
But the possiblity of an arson attack has not been ruled out as police and fire officers continue their investigation at the scene.
Youngsters Adyan Parwaiz Kayani, aged nine, his seven-year-old brother Amaan and their nine-week-old sister and their aunt, Anum Parwais Kayani, 20, all perished in the fire. The children’s grandmother Shabbina Begum, aged 54, had managed to escape the property in the first instance but died after going back inside for a failed rescue attempt.
A spokesman for South Yorkshire Fire Service said: “Investigations are ongoing, but nothing has been ruled out yet whilst they continue.
“We are unlikely to have an exact cause today but we know the community are worried about what happened, so the sooner we can say the better.”
Flowers and messages of condolence lined the scene today, where a cordon remains in place.
The blaze broke out in a three-storey terrace house in Sheffield shortly after midnight early yesterday morning, and claimed lives across three generations of the same family in what was described as “a tragedy beyond description”.
Shabbina Begum, 54, went back into the house on Wake Road, Nether Edge, but was unable to save her 20-year-old daughter Anum Parwaiz Kayani, who was aunt to a nine-week-old baby girl, as well as nine-year-old Adhyan Parwaiz Kayani and seven-year-old Amaan Parwaiz Kayani, who all also died.
The cousin of Mrs Begum, Ishfaq Hussain Kayani, said: “It’s just a huge tragedy. Words cannot describe how sad this is.
“It’s a tragedy beyond description.”
Describing the children as “full of life, quite bubbly and very energetic”, he said they had been looking forward to returning to school.
He said of Mrs Begum: “She was, to my children, like a mother, like an aunt. The whole community is in huge shock.
“As soon as the news broke just after midnight, we came round. I’ve been with the family.
“It’s so sad. A couple of hours ago the whole family was leading their normal life – quite prosperous, happy.
“Just in a matter of minutes the whole family has been destroyed. The whole family has gone.
“You can well imagine what the children’s parents are going through. I don’t have the words to describe how the family is feeling, other than shell-shocked, devastated.
“We are a close-knit family, there are enough people around to support the family.”
He added: “They were such a lovely family, highly respected. Quite an industrious family who had everything going. This tragedy has struck and we have to try our level best to pull through this.”
He described how their mother, Razia Nazim Kayani, survived the blaze but was now in a state of shock and “beyond consoling”.
“I believe the mother of the children, I think she was in the house,” he added.
“She managed to escape. The grandmother of the children, she made attempts to rescue the children but obviously it wasn’t to be.
“She came out then went back in, tried her level best. Frantic attempts were made to rescue the children.”
He said the children’s father, Nazim Parwaiz Kayani, was out working when the fire broke out.
People living in the area said up to 300 people came out in the street to try to offer help as the emergency services arrived.
Some neighbours reported hearing screams and wailing from the area when they were woken in the early hours.
Four fire engines were called to the scene and an aerial ladder was used to tackle the blaze.
Police and ambulance services also went to the house after receiving emergency calls.