UPDATED MAY 19: There’s been a tragic twist to the Batlow house fire deaths as police have been told that a woman and another child, who were also occupants of the house may have been locked outside the home at the time of the fire.
The twin girls who died in the blaze have been named in reports as Aisha and Lailani. Their mother Tanyka Ford and brother were also present at the time of the tragedy and are believed to have been locked out of the house in the backyard. Neighbours reported desperate attempts to gain access to the house, which was also destroyed by the fire.
NSW Police Taskforce Edmondson has been established by Riverina Police District and will look at whether there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding the girls’ deaths in a scenario that has been described as “horrific”.
The fire is believed to have spread rapidly, also potentially endangering neighbouring properties. Firefighters broke down doors to eventually gain access to the girls, who died at the scene.
Strike Force Edmondson will include Riverina detectives, Fire and Rescue NSW, and investigators from the State Crime Command Arson Unit.
Superintendent Bob Noble told media that investigations are still at an early stage. “There was a fireplace in the dwelling, it was burning, it was a cold day in the Alpine area, so that’s a factor we will be looking at, but we will look at all sources of ignition,” he said.
“These are two little babies who lived a short life and they died suddenly, unexpectedly and in horrific circumstances.”
May 18: Two children have died following a house fire in the south-west of NSW earlier today.
Emergency services were called to a home in Mayday Road, Batlow shortly after 11:00 am this morning after a house fire was reported.
Officers from Fire and Rescue NSW pulled two three-year-old girls, believed to be occupants of the home, from the blaze. But despite the efforts of first responders, the two girls died at the scene. The toddlers are believed to have been twins.
Police have been told a woman and another child, aged five, who are also occupants, were locked outside the home at the time of the fire. Fire and Rescue NSW extinguished the blaze.
Officers from Riverina Police District established a crime scene and inquiries have commenced into the circumstances surrounding the fire. Police are speaking to family members and neighbours as part of the investigation.
Strike Force Edmondson has been established by officers from Riverina Police District to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fire.
The cause is yet to be determined and local detectives are being assisted by the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad’s Arson Unit.
A report will be prepared for the information of the Coroner.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or CrimeStoppers. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.