Mother and her seven children die after clothes dryer burst into flames while they slept


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A tragic fire has killed a mother and her seven children, aged between two and 14, after their clothes dryer reportedly burst into flames while the family were sleeping in northern France today. The mother, her five girls and the two boys died from asphyxiation from the blaze which started just after midnight in their family home in the town of Charly-sur-Marne, 50 miles east of Paris.

Nearly 80 firefighters attended the scene, as well as 48 vehicles.

The woman’s husband, 40, who was the father of three of the children, was the only occupant of the house who survived.

He suffered severe burns and has been taken to hospital.

The mother and her children died from asphyxiation, according to local prosecutor Julien Morino-Ros, who confirmed the origin of the fire appeared to be a malfunctioning clothes dryer located on the ground floor of the house. The family were sleeping on the second floor.

He said: “It is a priori a dryer that caught fire on the ground floor,” adding that the “bodies were not burnt.”

According to the prosecutor’s account to AFP, the father tried to intervene by going down to the ground floor, where the tumble dryer was located, asking his family to take shelter on the second floor, a converted attic.

The narrow street where the house was located made it difficult for firefighters to place their ladders at the windows, according to local media.

The rescue effort was further hampered by the house’s electric window shutters, which were blocked due to a power outage, added the prosecutor.

Emergency services were called by neighbours just before 1am. It took several hours for them to extinguish the fire, with it continuing to burn until early morning.

The homeowners next door were evacuated for their safety as the fire also damaged their property.

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The children included five girls and two boys, four of which were from the mother’s previous relationship, according to emergency services.

The French Public Prosecution Service has launched an investigation into the causes of the fire.

A medical-psychological assistance unit was set up at the Charly-sur-Marne emergency centre.

The prefect sent “his most sincere condolences to the family and friends of the victims”, as well as to “all the inhabitants of the bereaved town”.

The tragedy was the worst incident of its kind since 2013, when five children between two and nine died asphyxiated in an accidental fire, also in northern France.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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