A MOTHER AND her seven children aged two to 14 have died after a fire broke out while they slept in their house in northern France, police and firefighters have said.

The raging blaze, the deadliest such fire in France in a decade, broke out shortly after midnight in the family home in the town of Charly-sur-Marne, some 80 kilometres east of Paris.

The mother and her children died from asphyxiation, local prosecutor Julien Morino-Ros told AFP.

The origin of the fire appeared to have been a malfunctioning clothes dryer on the ground floor of the house, he said.

Neighbours called the fire department to report the blaze just before 1am (12am Irish time).

The woman’s husband, father to three of the children, was seriously burned and transferred to a hospital, they said.

His life was saved by a firefighter who lives nearby and who intervened before his colleagues arrived.

The children included five girls and two boys. Four of them were from the mother’s previous relationship.

The father appears to have attempted to put out the fire while the children and their mother sought refuge from the flames on the second floor of the house, but that move turned out to be a trap, the prosecutor said.

While black smoke filled the house, firefighters were having trouble getting ladders to the top windows of the house which is nestled in a narrow street in the centre of the village of 2,600 inhabitants.

The house’s electric window shutters were blocked because of a power outage, further hampering the rescue effort, he said.

A total of 80 firefighters were called to the scene, and the fire was extinguished after several hours, local authorities said.

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

© AFP 2023

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