Open fire burning in NSW home before twins’ death: Police
Twin three-year-old girls have tragically died in a house fire in the state's south west.
Firefighters pulled the twins from their home on Mayday Rd at Batlow just after 11am when the home went up in flames.
Despite efforts to save their lives, the girls both died at the scene.
Police said the twins' horrified mother stood outside the home with her other daughter, aged five, as emergency crews forced their way in after finding the door locked.
"First responders retrieved two young girls, three-year-old twin girls from the home and despite their best efforts those two young girls could not be revived," Riverina police superintendent Bob Noble said.
"Obviously it's a particularly horrific incident, the lives of two young girls having been lost, family members and so forth and friends of the family are obviously distraught, as are neighbours.
"Two little girls, two little twin girls, can you imagine it? It's just devastatingly sad that two young lives have been snuffed out like that."
Supt Noble said the mother and neighbours simultaneously raised the alarm and he revealed an open fire had been burning in the home.
"The information that I have is that, yes there was a small fire burning as there would be on a cold day like this," he said.
The home was made a crime scene immediately as forensics crews and the arson squad were called in.
Supt Freedom said investigators were keeping an "open mind" while they did not know the exact cause of the fire.
"The mother and the young child that were here at the time will provide information that will be critical to investigators and that's our starting point but I assure you that won't be the end point.
"It's difficult for investigators to interview young children, particularly in an instance where that young child has lost two siblings."
Local apple grower Greg Mouat said it was a devastating blow for the family and the town, which had already suffered dearly since the summer bushfires ripped through the town.
"It's a terribly sad situation. Batlow has been belted around the ears," Mr Mouat said.
"Not only was there the drought then the fires, then we had coronavirus come along.
"Now this terrible family tragedy, it's just devastating."
Another local said the "heartbroken" family involved were well known around the town and horrified locals watched as the house was engulfed this morning.
"We saw flames about 12 feet high and we were about 1km away," the man, who did not wish to be named, said.
"We're all a bit gut-busted by it … we just survived a bushfire and drought.
"Most of the family are there and they're all heartbroken.
"They are a local family … they're a fairly big family, they have two or three houses all over this small village.
"They're reasonably well known in some circles around here."