Neighbours have described the horrific moment they saw a distraught mother standing at the window of her burning home in NSW’s Hunter region, trapped inside with her four young children.
Kara Atkins, 31, remains in hospital alongside her eight-year-old daughter Bayley after being pulled from the fire, however, her three other children could not be saved as a blaze ripped through the family home in Singleton early Wednesday morning.
Tragically, five-year-old twins Matylda and Scarlett and their 11-year-old brother Blake died from the fire.
Nearby residents, who have been hailed for their quick-thinking actions, were alerted to the fire after hearing screams coming from inside the inferno.
Neighbour Deanna Stolzenburg told The Daily Telegraph she rushed to the back of the home to see Ms Atkins in a hysterical state.
“(Kara) was at the back window screaming for help and we went out the back and pulled them out,” she said.
“The window was open and Kara was passing her daughter (Brayden) out, she said: ‘take her take her, I’ve got to get the rest’.”
Ms Stolzenburg said despite her efforts alongside her partner Braden Rodgers, she felt “helpless” because she was unable to pull more family members from the home as the flames became too intense.
When firefighters arrived, they were able to smash through windows to retrieve Matylda and Scarlett, who were rushed to hospital, but later died.
It was only when the fire was extinguished that emergency services discovered Blake’s body inside the destroyed home.
Ms Atkins and Brayden remain in stable conditions in hospital.
Devastated community raises $100,000 for family
The tight-knit community is grief-stricken by the deaths and an online fundraiser was launched hours after the family was identified.
On Tuesday morning, the page had just reached its $100,000 target.
"We cannot begin to comprehend what this family is going through," one donor wrote.
"I cried for you this morning. I’ve lost a daughter the same way," another wrote.
"May you find the strength you need to push through, and have the love and support that we did."
Police and fire investigators are working to establish what caused the fire, but it's understood a fireplace is being considered as a potential source of the blaze.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
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