A 7-year-old boy is dead after a fire tore through his family’s home, and his inconsolable mother watched the blaze continue to burn after she tried to get her children out of the fire.
The BBC reports that Joel Urhie was discovered dead after an intense fire ripped through his family’s home in South London in the early hours of Tuesday morning. His mother reportedly broke through a window with the boy’s older sister to escape the burning home, screaming that her son was still inside.
Neighbors reportedly told the Daily Mail that Joel’s mother, Efe Urhie, was covered in blood after smashing and jumping through a window on the first floor of the home. She screamed “My son’s in there!” as her daughter, 19, sobbed and said the boy’s name over and over again.
Joel’s 21-year-old brother was not home when the house caught fire but reportedly arrived at the scene shortly after the home erupted in flames, and tried to run in and rescue his brother, but emergency responders stopped him from entering, according to the Daily Mail.
A family friend who lives nearby told the BBC that she rushed to the home as she learned what was happening, and tried to console Joel’s mother.
“The fire was just too much, like a curtain, no-one could go in or out,” she said.
“We heard the last blast of the glass and she just collapsed.”
Authorities have launched a murder probe and are seeking a suspect, believing that the fire was set intentionally.
“An innocent seven-year-old boy has lost his life in what should have been the safest place for him, his home,” Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan told the BBC.
“We believe that the fire was started deliberately but at this stage I am unable to go into any further detail due to operational reasons.”
According to the Daily Mail, witnesses reported seeing an argument outside the home hours before the house caught fire. It is unclear who was involved in the argument.
Joel’s father John Urhie spoke to reporters outside at the scene on Tuesday, saying that while he has not lived at the home in five years, he got a call at about 4 a.m. about the fire and rushed over.
“When I came, the first thing I saw was my daughter inside the ambulance. They said, ‘Joel’s dead,’ and there’s nothing I can do about it,” John said in an on-camera interview.
The father described his son as “a very lovely boy who was just loving life.”
“He was a very nice looking boy,” Joel’s father said. “It’s terrible; the pain we cannot forget.”
Police have not identified any suspects at this time.