The heartbroken family of a little boy killed in a house fire and his 12-year-old brother left fighting for life has released photographs of the pair.
Paul Sykes, nine, was killed in the blaze at the family home on Tennyson Close, Penistone, on Wednesday.
His older brother Jack was ‘critically injured’ in the horror inferno and remains in hospital this morning with his devastated mum, Claire, at his side.
Among the lines of inquiry police were investigating today was the theory Jack’s dad, Darren, who also died, may have started the blaze.
Darren, aged 44, was home alone with his boys when the fire broke out.
His marriage to their mum Claire is said to have broken down over recent months, leading to his wife moving out with the children.
Post mortem examinations are due to be carried out on Darren and Paul today.
Today, as shocked neighbours struggled to come to terms with the tragedy on their doorstep, prayers were being said for Jack at the school he attends.
Jo Higgins, principal of Penistone Grammar School, said: “As a school community our hearts go out to the Sykes family and we offer sincere condolences for the tragic circumstances they have experienced.
“We are all thinking of Jack who is in hospital, and he has many caring friends in our school community.
“We are ensuring all our students are being supported at this very difficult time.”
Andy Platt, headteacher at Springvale Primary School which Paul attended, said: “All of us wish to offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Paul Sykes.
“Paul was an outgoing, popular boy who was blossoming into a fine runner and cornet player. He will be greatly missed.”
Darren and Paul were killed in the blaze at their semi-detached home on Tennyson Close, Penistone.
Darren, who worked for Shaw’s Carpets in Darton, and his wife Claire were separated, and the boys were visiting their dad when fire broke out at 6.30pm on Wednesday.
Detectives are treating the death as ‘suspicious’ – but said they are ‘not looking for anyone else’ in connection with the incident.
Crime scene investigation experts in white suits spent yesterday carrying out a detailed examination of the charred remains of the property, with its soot-blackened cracked window panes.
They were joined by a specialist fire service search dog trained to detect substances which can be used to start fires.
Police officers cordoned off the house and stood guard outside while the painstaking examination took place.
Officers also taped off the entrance to Tennyson Close and prevented anyone but residents, police and fire service officials from entering. Door-to-door inquiries were carried out on the street.
Steve Helps, of South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said firefighters who found Darren and his two sons battled to revive the trio but only Jack could be saved.
He said those involved in the dramatic rescue, and those who gave first aid at the scene, had been offered support to come to terms with the deaths.
Area manager Helps said the blaze was already ‘well developed’ when crews were alerted.
They searched the smoke-filled house and found Darren and his young sons slumped upstairs.
He said firefighters were faced with ‘harrowing conditions’.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and with local residents following this very devastating fire,” he said.
“The first crew arrived to a very well developed fire on the ground floor, they entered using breathing apparatus, searched the property, and soon located three casualties.
“First aid was undertaken but sadly two of the casualties had died at the scene.”
Chief Inspector Deb Mahmood, of South Yorkshire Police, described the fire deaths as ‘tragic’.
“We are carrying out a joint investigation into the cause of the fire and we will work closely with South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service,” she said.
“The fire is being treated as suspicious, however we are not looking for anyone else.
“It is clearly a tragic incident and our hearts go out to the family and the wider community. Things like this have a profound effect.”
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