Anniversary of a truly tragic night

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ONE year ago today four innocent youngsters were killed after a fire broke out as their mother celebrated her birthday at a house party with friends.

Just after 11.30pm on January 7, 2012, fire ripped through a small bungalow in Freckleton, leading to the deaths of three children who were asleep upstairs – and their older brother who attempted to rescue them.

Reece Smith, 18, died after being overcome by smoke as he tried to save twin sisters Holly and Ella, four, and his baby brother Jordan, two, from their burning bedroom.

Michelle Smith, the children’s mother, had been celebrating her 36th birthday when the tragedy unfolded.

Today, the Lytham Road house remains empty and boarded up – a constant reminder to people in the village of the sad events of that night.

Maraline Foster, who was chairman of Freckleton Parish Council at the time, said: “It was a tragic event and the house is still empty, so it’s sad when you drive past.

“People will be remembering the terrible events and what happened today, it was a tragic occurrence and we just hope it doesn’t happen again.

“It is one of the worst things which has ever happened in Freckleton, it takes you right back to the air crash (in 1944, when 61 people died).”

And Coun Louis Rigby, who represents the village on Fylde Council, added: “I’m sure people will be thinking about them, it was a tragic affair.

“It was a tragedy and we can do without them.

“I’m sure a lot of the village residents’ thoughts will be with the family at this time.”

Reece was a pupil in the sixth form at Lytham St Annes High Technology and Performing Arts College, while Holly and Ella were in their first year at St John’s Primary School, Lytham.

And this week the school is understood to be holding a special assembly to mark the anniversary.

Rev Jack Wixon, from St John’s Church, on East Beach, who led the siblings’ funeral service, said: “We shall remember them like we do lots of people on their anniversary. It’s the school community who have been really affected and I believe they are holding a special assembly in their memory.”

Dyson Allen, 19, of no fixed address, has been charged with murdering the siblings and will next appear before Preston Crown Court on March 4.

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