A ‘hero father’ is fighting for his life in hospital after trying to save a ‘devoted’ mother with a ‘heart of gold’ who was killed alongside her two young children in a house fire.
Gemma Germeney, 31, her son Oliver Peden, four, and daughter Lilly Peden, eight, died after the family’s two-storey maisonette in Cambridge caught fire on Friday morning.
An unnamed man in his 30s who escaped the burning building and remains in a critical condition in hospital is believed to be Ms Germeny’s partner, Scott Peden, who is the father of her two children.
Neighbours paid moving tributes to the family, with one resident called Debbi telling the Sun: ‘Gemma loved her kids to bits, she was a devoted mum and she had a heart of gold.
‘We heard that her partner Scott had tried to rescue them all when the fire broke out in the middle of the night. He was a hero, but he couldn’t save them.’
Gemma Germeney (left), 31, her daughter Lilly Peden (bottom right), eight, and her son Oliver Peden (bottom left), four, were all killed in the fire. The man believed to be her partner, Scott Peden (back right) is fighting for his life
Lilly Peden, eight, and Oliver Peden, four, both died in hospital following the tragic house fire
Locals described hearing screams as flames burst out of the windows of the family’s ground and first floor maisonette (pictured) in Sackville Close, in the King’s Hedges area of Cambridge
Ms Germeney died at the scene, while her two young children passed away later in hospital.
Their two dogs are also believed to have perished in the fire.
Locals described hearing screams as flames burst out of the windows of the family’s home on Sackville Close, in the King’s Hedges area of Cambridge.
A neighbour who asked not to be named said: ‘I was woken up by what I thought was a car alarm, but it must have been a smoke alarm going off.
‘Then I heard a lot of shouting and commotion. A man’s voice was yelling, ‘Call the fire brigade’ and ‘Call an ambulance’.
‘There was smoke billowing everywhere and I could see flames, and hear the sounds of windows smashing.
‘The first two fire engines arrived within a few minutes and they quickly got the fire under control.
Neighbours paid moving tributes to the family, with one resident called Debbi saying: ‘Gemma loved her kids to bits, she was a devoted mum and she had a heart of gold
Gemma Germeney (left) and her eight-year-old daughter Lilly Peden (right) who traigcally died along with four-year-old Oliver
‘I didn’t realise how serious it was until I saw some stretchers being wheeled out. It was absolutely horrific.
‘I think there was a child on one of the stretchers and they were receiving CPR.’
Around 30 firefighters which included crews from Cambridge, Cottenham, Cambourne, Linton, Burwell and Huntingdon were all involved in helping tackle the flames.
The alarm was raised as the fire took hold shortly after 1am on Friday, but details of the fatalities were only released on Saturday.
Police kept the scene of the tragedy cordoned off as officers, joined by the fire service, attempted to establish the cause of the blaze.
The walls of property have been left charred black, and the windows smashed, as a result of the intense heat and smoke.
Despite fire crews battling to stop the fire from spreading to adjoining properties, a child from a neighbouring home was also taken to hospital.
It is believed that the child suffering from smoke inhalation, but was not seriously hurt.
Neighbours described Ms Germeney as a ‘devoted’ mother with a ‘heart of gold’
Both police and firefighters were on the scene on Sackville Close (pictured)
More than 30 firefighters rushed to a flat in King’s Hedges ward, Cambridge at 1.08am
Firefighters from five separate Cambridgeshire crews attended the tragic incident
Another neighbour who asked to stay anonymous said: ‘I was woken up by screaming just after 1am and I thought it was someone having an argument.
‘A few minutes later, I was woken up properly by fire engines turning up. I looked out of my window and saw flames everywhere. They were coming out of the ground floor window and going up the wall.
‘The ambulances could not get near because of all the fire engines. I saw the stretchers being wheeled past to get to the ambulances, and a policeman carrying a child who looked like a boy.
‘There were loads of fire engines, two ambulances and police cars. It was just mayhem. I had never seen so many people out there.’
Data analyst Peter Griffin, 30, who lives nearby said: ‘I was woken up by the first fire engine – but our neighbour said he heard shouting before that.
‘There are trees between our house and the maisonette. I could see the orange glow of the fire. There was also an acrid smell of smoke.
‘I think the family who lived in the maisonette had a large dog. It is just an awful tragedy.’
Area Commander Stuart Smith of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service said: ‘This is a devastating and deeply upsetting incident that will touch many people.
‘Our thoughts are with the relatives, friends and neighbours of the family. It’s just heartbreaking.
A police scientific support unit van was among the emergency vehicles at the scene on Friday afternoon
A cordon remained in place today as emergency services attempted to establish the cause of the blaze
‘We know this will have a huge impact on the local community and our fire safety team was in the area visiting residents yesterday to provide fire safety information and reassurance and will be returning next week.
‘A fire like this is one of the toughest incidents you can attend as a firefighter and we’re looking after the welfare of all those who responded to or supported this incident.’
A Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said the alarm was raised at 1.08am on Friday.
The spokesperson added: ‘Crews arrived to find smoke issuing from the ground and first floor of a two storey maisonette. Crews worked hard to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to neighbouring properties.
‘A man in his 30s managed to escape the flat before crews arrived, however he suffered serious injuries and was taken to hospital where he remains in a critical condition.
‘Two children, a boy and a girl, were rescued by firefighters. They received treatment at the scene by firefighters and paramedics but tragically both later died in hospital. Sadly, a woman in her 30s also died at the scene.
‘An investigation to establish the cause of the fire started yesterday and will continue over the weekend.’
Cambridge mayor Jenny Gawthrope Wood said: ‘I know that the residents of King’s Hedges and the whole city will share my shock and sorrow at the loss of life in Sackville Close. To lose loved ones in such tragic circumstances is so terribly hard to bear.
‘I know that our council officers will provide support wherever they can. I offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this shocking event.’
Inside were a young boy, aged 4, and girl, 8, who were later rescued but died in hospital
A Cambridge City Council spokesperson said: ‘People will be shocked and distressed to hear about this incident in their local community and we are working to provide support to those people who have been directly affected, including the occupants of neighbouring properties.
‘We are also working closely with our emergency service partners and we will support their investigation into its cause. Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and all of the people who have been affected.’
An East of England Ambulance Service spokesperson said: ‘Three ambulances, three Hazardous Area Response Team vehicles, two ambulance officer vehicles and response cars from the East Anglian Air Ambulance and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance were called out in the early hours of Friday June 30 to a serious house fire in Sackville Close in Cambridge.
‘The ambulance service would like to extend its deepest sympathies to all those affected by this tragic incident.’