The fire started in the hallway. Forensic tests showed petrol had been used to start the blaze. When the petrol vapour ignited, the fire spread quickly as the flames were drawn upstairs in a 'chimney effect' due to an open window on the landing.
Dense smoke built up on the landing ceiling. The doors to the childrens' bedrooms were slightly ajar which allowed smoke inside. Smoke alarms were activated but failed to wake the children as they slept.
Downstairs polystyrene ceiling tiles in the lounge caught fire. Poisonous smoke from these and burning carpets headed up the stairs.
As firefighters entered the house they were confronted with black smoke so thick they had to feel their way around. One fireman said they had to locate the youngsters by touch and not sight.
One by one the six children were carried unconscious from the house. Firemen and police tried to revive them as they lay on the pavement in the street, but it was too late.
Investigators later confirmed the blaze was started deliberately. A specially trained sniffer dog discovered traces of petrol at the foot of the stairs.