A COMMUNITY has been left 'shocked and saddened' after a seven-year-old girl died just days after being trapped in a house fire.

The girl's full name has not been officially released by police but she has been named locally as Lily.

Fire ripped through a house in Esk Road, Darlington, on Saturday afternoon, trapping the little girl inside.

Neighbours made frantic efforts to save her but were pushed back by the thick black smoke.

Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus entered the property and managed to get her out but The Northern Echo understands she may have been starved of oxygen for some time.

On Thursday evening the head teacher of Lily's school Kate Chisholm said: "All at Skerne Park Academy are shocked and deeply saddened by the death of Lily.

"Lily was a lovely girl who was liked by all children and staff.

"Her loss will be felt across the whole school, and our thoughts and love go to her family and the community of Skerne Park."

 

After the fire Lily was rushed James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, then transferred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.

She died there on Wednesday, four days after the fire.

Police and fire investigators are still looking into the cause of the blaze which was initially believed to be suspicious.

However they then said early investigations were indicating that it was not a deliberate act.

A 16-year-old was arrested on suspicion of arson but then released under investigation, police said.

The girl's younger brother and a family friend escaped the blaze.

Her older brother is understood to have left the home not long before the fire took hold, which happened while other family members were out shopping.

Tributes poured in on social media last night, with parents of a classmate describing Lily as a 'really funny girl' who made the other pupils laugh and will be missed by her schoolfriends.

A fundraising page has been set up by members of the community to help raise money and gather donations for the family after they lost everything including their Christmas presents in the fire.

Detective Chief Inspector Traci McNally, said: “A police investigation is underway.

“Our thoughts are with the little girl’s family and friends following this tragic incident.”

Police yesterday confirmed to the media that the little girl had died and said a post mortem examination was due to be held in the coming days.

Neighbours described at the weekend how family members and friends frantically called to the girl as the fire raged through the council property, but received no response.

One neighbour even crawled into the kitchen but was overwhelmed by the 'acrid' smoke and could not reach Lily.

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