Family Burns To Death Because Police Stop People From Helping
(DAILY MAIL) The five-year-old girl left fighting for life in hospital after a house fire which killed her mother, father and baby brother has died.
Mark and Michelle Colley, along with three-year-old Louis, died in the blaze at the weekend – despite neighbours saying they could have been saved if police had not held back would-be rescuers.
Now daughter Sophie has also lost her fight for life.
Neighbours said they could see heavily-pregnant Michelle at an upstairs window, screaming ‘please save my kids’ – but police said they had to wait for firemen to arrive.
Family friend David Davis, 38, said: ‘It was the most harrowing thing I have ever seen.
‘Michelle was at the bedroom window and we wanted to help but the police were pushing us back and not allowing us near.
‘We were willing to risk our own lives to save those children but the police just wouldn’t let us – and there was no way they were going to try themselves.
Tempers were running high but the police were saying we have to wait for the fire brigade because of health and safety rules.’
He added: ‘When a family is burning to death in front of your eyes, rules should go out of the window – especially when children are involved.’
Neil Cotterill said he heard another neighbour shouting for people to bring ladders. ‘We could have helped,’ he said.
The fire broke out shortly after midnight on the ground floor of the family’s three-bedroom terraced home in Highfields, near Doncaster.
Mrs Colley, 25, who was expecting her third child in a fortnight, and her husband had spent a quiet evening at home before going to bed.
They were woken by the fire and a 999 call was made at 12.26am. Police were the first to arrive.
Mr Davis said: ‘There were four or five officers. We heard the sirens and went across to help but they wouldn’t let us.
‘I thought the police were there to protect lives. Years ago they would have gone inside themselves to try a rescue. But all they seemed bothered about was health and safety rules.
‘It’s unbelievable that it could happen like that. Everybody wanted to try and help. You can’t have respect for police if they have no respect for other people’s lives. It might have been different if it was one of their own.
‘Mark and Michelle were a great couple. A real family – they loved their kids and the kids were smashing.’
Another witness said some friends and neighbours ignored the police warnings and tried to reach the family with ladders and a hosepipe. But again the police intervened and stopped them.
Chris Richardson, 37, said: ‘It was shocking. I couldn’t believe the police were acting like that.
‘One woman climbed over the garden fence and went to the house but there was a policeman at the back who stopped her.’
Firemen using breathing apparatus found Mr Colley, a DIY store supervisor, in the master bedroom with his wife. Sophie was in another bedroom and Louis on the landing.
Witnesses said police arrived ‘several minutes’ before firemen but South Yorkshire police refused to give the exact time, citing ‘data protection’ rules.
Detective Superintendent Peter McGuinness said: ‘I would like to commend our officers. The Fire Brigade were only minutes away but our officers were faced with a raging fire. They handled the incident as professionally as we would expect and then worked long into the night.’
Experts said the blaze was not suspicious.