Two children killed by 'Christmas Street' blaze
by NILUFER ATIK, Daily Mail
Two children died and a third was fighting for his life last night after a fire thought to have been started by Christmas tree lights.
Five-year-old Jade Goddard and her brother Alex, six, died after their fibreoptic tree burst into flames, destroying the family home.
Their four-year-old brother, Nathan, is on a life support machine, his devastated parents at his side.
The tragedy happened in a neighbourhood known as Christmas Street because of the effort families make to celebrate the festive season.
Thousands of visitors arrive each year to experience the atmosphere and see decorations.
The Goddard house
Last night, however, the lights were switched off in John Street, Thurnscoe, South Yorkshire with the neighbourhood in mourning.
Only hours before the tragedy on Monday, the children's parents - Andrew, 38, and his disabled wife, Mandy, 30 - had joined celebrations for the completion of the street's annual Christmas lights display.
At 10.30pm, a group of neighbours walking home after giving visitors a guided tour saw smoke pouring from the Goddards' semi-detached house.
They smashed down the front door and managed to rescue Mr and Mrs Goddard and Nathan, but when they went back in to save Jade and Alex the intense flames forced them back.
Gary Rhodes, 38, one of the first at the scene, said: 'We managed to find a couple of ladders, but we could see how thick and intense the smoke was.
'Some of the lads started throwing bricks at the windows to try and get some air in so they could breathe and to let smoke out.
'I went up a ladder and the window popped. Andrew was at the window and he couldn't breathe. I grabbed him, pulled him out and I jumped, holding on to him. We both landed on the bonnet of his car.
Another neighbour, Carl McLean, managed to grab Nathan and drag him out.
'We went back in for the other two, but by that time the fire was so intense we couldn't get in. We kept trying and trying. We could hear the kids screaming. It was terrible.
'We did our best but our best wasn't good enough.'
Firemen found Alex and Jade unconscious in separate bedrooms. They died later in hospital. Their parents had minor injuries.
Every year, the residents of John Street build a grotto and hold street parties.
The display attracts 400 visitors a night who, through donations, help raise money for charities. The Goddards had decorated their home inside and out in keeping with the local tradition. Mr Rhodes said: 'The whole street is devastated.
'To think that there was so much joy and happiness just a couple of hours before, and then this happens. It has destroyed Christmas for us.'
South Yorkshire police said the cause of the fire was not certain. A spokesman warned that Christmas lights should always be switched off when unattended.