Five children die in France house fire

Five children between the ages of two and 10 died when a fire ravaged their home in northern France overnight while their father was seriously burned trying to save them, officials said Sunday.

Five children die in France house fire
Photo: Francois Nascimbeni/AFP

The father, who is reported to be in his forties, leapt from a first-floor window of the house in Saint-Quentin, a town about 130 kilometres (80 miles) northeast of Paris, in order to seek help.

He later attempted to go back into the house with a neighbour but the two were helpless in the face of the massive flames.

"He never thought of himself. He tried to go get help. He burned himself trying to save his son," said the neighbour Olivier Hubeaux.

Around 50 firefighters were dispatched to the fire, but struggled to get in the building due to the "violence" of the flames and the "nearly complete collapse of the first floor", said firefighter Lieutenant Thierry Oberlin.

Masses of smoke also "seriously complicated the work of the firefighters" who found the five bodies of the children, "dead from asphyxiation", said town official Jean-Jacques Boyer.

Autopsies will be carried out on the children on Monday.

Investigators were on Sunday following the assumption that the fire was accidental, but its exact origin had not yet been confirmed.

The father, whose name was not released, was in hospital with serious burns and was only told on Sunday morning by a psychologist that his children had died.

The children's mother arrived on Sunday and was in the care of doctors after receiving the news.

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Fire ravages building near Paris opera house

Police in the French capital have advised people to avoid the Boulevard des Capucines, near Place de l'Opéra, after a building caught fire.

A large fire has broken out near Paris' Place de l'Opéra. Emergency services say to avoid the area.
A large fire has broken out near Paris' Place de l'Opéra (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

A large building has caught fire on the Boulevard des Capucines in Paris’ 9th arrondissement. 

Images posted on social media show plumes of black smoke coming out of the old haussmanian building as fire engines attend to the blaze.

It is not yet clear what the cause of the fire was. 

French police have advised the public to stay away from the area to allow access for fire engines. 

We will be updating this story as we get more information.