A Barnsley house fire which killed a 44-year-old man and his nine year old son and left his 12-year-old son fighting for his life is being treated as suspicious, police said today.
But officers are not looking for anyone else in connection with the fatal blaze which broke out at the property in Tennyson Close, Penistone, at 6.30pm last night.
Police have named the man who died as Darren Sykes and said his youngest son Paul had also perished in the tragedy.
Mr Sykes had lived at the house with his wife, Claire, a charity volunteer and their eldest son Jack but it is understood the couple had recently separated.
Jack is being treated for life threatening injuries at a hospital in Manchester today with his mother at his bedside.
Neighbours said Claire had moved out recently taking the boys with her after ‘domestic problems’.
Emergency services were called to the semi-detached house last night where they were met by a ferocious blaze.
Steve Helps an area manager for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “It was a devastating fire.”
He added firefighters involved in the rescue effort were being offered support.
Mr Sykes, a carpet fitter, and his sons were rescued from the house by firefighters and taken to hospital.
He and Paul were pronounced dead at hospital shortly afterwards from fire-related injuries.
Neighbour Alan Shaw said: “I was coming back from walking the dog at about 6.30pm and as I came out of the park, I saw smoke everywhere.
“I thought it was coming from a garage and then I realised the house was on fire.
“It transpired it was a big fire and soon fire engines turned up.
“It’s unbelievable really. I’m still in shock - you just don’t expect it to happen outside your own home.
“The family had lived here for a while but they had moved away recently and then come back. “I think there had been some kind of domestic problem.”
Another neighbour, Anthony Thorpe, said: “I knew something was going on but I didn’t know what.
“Suddenly three fire engines turned up and there was smoke everywhere.
“We didn’t really know them but it’s really sad when it happens so close by.”
Resident Ken Riddle, aged 77, told The Star: “We are all terribly shocked. My wife noticed smoke coming out of the house across the road.
“I went outside and lots of neighbours were already outside. The ambulance and fire brigade were there quickly and did a marvellous job but it’s terrible but two people have died.
“Darren is a guy I know quite well. He’s always very nice and helpful to us and other neighbours.”
He added: “We could see smoke but no flames. The firefighters asked us to go back inside.
“It’s a terrible shock, especially when a child has died too.”
May Williams, aged 30, who only moved to the street in September, said: “It’s absolutely horrendous.”
Retired security officer Barrie Hall, aged 73, said Darren and Claire were seperated.
He described Darren as a big kid who loved his children.
He said: “He was alright, he loved his kids. You’d hear him playing with is kids all the time. He’d play anything with them - he was a bigger kid than they were.”
He said he’d seen the fire but hadn’t realised anyone was in the property.
“We didn’t know until later that anybody was in there,” he said.
“It was a shock. It’s terrible.
“It just blows you away.”Another man living nearby said neighbours came out to find the house well alight and firefighters arriving at the scene. He said it was ‘horrific’.
This morning the house - a modern semi-detached property - was cordoned off and guarded by police.
More officers had sealed off the quiet cul-de-sac to traffic and crime scene investigators were on site along with the East Midlands Fire Investigation Dog Unit.
Evidence of the blaze could be seen in the blackened and broken upstairs windows.
Police and the fire service will continue their investigations today.
A fire spokesman said: “Sadly, despite the best efforts of fire crews a 44-year-old man and nine-year-old boy died. “Our thoughts are with the family involved of those involved in this tragic incident.”
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