A woman who died in a fire made a desperate phone call to her husband while flames engulfed the house, a relative has said.
The woman’s shouts of “fire, fire” through the phone prompted her husband to run to the blazing house in south east London on Thursday evening, according to the husband’s cousin, who gave his name only as Jega.
Around 40 London Fire Brigade (LFB) firefighters in six engines and officers from the Metropolitan Police also rushed to the semi-detached terrace on Hamilton Road in Bexleyheath at around 8.30pm.
The Met said two women and an infant boy and girl, all believed to be related, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Using ladders and breathing apparatus, crews managed to pull the adults and children from the property, but they were pronounced dead at the scene.
A man is in hospital with non-life threatening leg injuries, while another man who arrived at the scene was taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service (LAS) crews, the force said.
Jega said that he had spoken to his cousin on Friday.
He said: “He (the husband) said he got a call from his wife and she was just shouting and then the call ended. It went silent.
“She was shouting ‘fire fire’.”
He added: “It is so sad. It is impossible to comfort him or to describe what he is going through.”
The cousin described the youngsters who died as “happy children” and added that “it looks like an accident and you can’t prepare for that.”
The cousin said the family were of Sri Lankan heritage.
It is believed that the husband, who has been named locally as Yogan, works in an off licence around 20 minutes away and was at work when the fire started.
Mayal Mathivathanan, 46, described the father as a “very nice guy”.
“I’ve just seen him, he was crying his baby daughters name,” he said.
“I can’t imagine what he was feeling.”
Builder and nearby resident Scott James, 44, told the Standard: “I saw the little boy on the way to school that morning. They were very friendly to say hello to.
“They had just moved in about five months ago.
“It’s horrendous and bizarre. You see fires but this was something else.
“Flames were coming out of every window. It was so instant which was was frightening.
“I saw the lady being carried out of the top floor window. The father was distraught.”
He added that the blaze “all happened so quickly”, and firefighters “very quickly had ladders up to the windows,” as they tried to rescue those inside.
“The downstairs was on fire and then the whole house went up. It was engulfed in flames. There wasn’t an explosion,” he said.
Mr James said he told other neighbours to stay back until firefighters arrived who “very quickly had ladders up to the windows” and pulled one woman out from the upper level.
“I saw them yesterday and waved at them,” he said.
“I spoke to them just to say hello. It was just pleasantries. It is very sad to wake up this morning and hear they have perished.”
Ling Han, 36, who lives 10 metres away, said her family heard “sharp screaming” coming from inside the house and her children told her “there was a big fire”.
She saw firefighters take two children out of the house and the emergency services trying to save their lives.
“They tried really hard to do CPR. They never gave up. They tried to do CPR for the children,” she said.
“I was shocked. My body was shocked. I had no idea how I could help them…
“I saw a huge flame in the first floor.
“I am just so sad because we could see people in danger and could not do anything for them.”
A fire engine was parked outside the house on Friday morning, and the blackened first floor windows could be seen from behind a police cordon.
Uniformed officers stood guard in front of blue sheets at the end of the road, where mourners had laid flowers.
The cause of the fire is not thought to be suspicious and there have been no arrests, the Met said.
Detective Chief Superintendent Trevor Lawry, head of policing for Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased, who have suffered such an awful and devastating loss.
“We have officers in the location and I know these sentiments are shared by residents across the Bexley and London as a whole.
“Our inquiries are ongoing and we will continue to work with our colleagues in the London Fire Brigade to fully understand the cause of this terrible incident.”
London Fire Commissioner Andy Roe said: “This is a truly terrible incident which is both sad and shocking.
“Our thoughts are with the family, friends and local community at this difficult time.”
In a statement, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was "heartbroken" to hear of the news.
He said: "I am heartbroken to hear that two women and two children have tragically lost their lives in a house fire in Bexley last night. My heart goes out to all their loved ones and the local community at this awful time.
"The London Fire Brigade worked tirelessly at the scene to put out the fire and I remain in close contact with them over their urgent investigation into this terrible incident."