A COMMUNITY is rallying round the family of a boy killed in a fire that gutted their home.

Neighbours and other residents in the Carrville area of Durham are collecting money to assist the Blakelock family, involved in Tuesday's tragedy at their home in Broome Road.

Seven-year-old Liam Blakelock was found by firefighters amid thick smoke and fumes upstairs in the semi-detached council house. He was confirmed dead at hospital.

His mother, Kathryn, 38, and three-year-old brother, Shaun, were rescued from the living room.

Both were given oxygen outside the house and were kept in hospital for treatment for the effects of smoke inhalation.

Mrs Blakelock was released on Wednesday and joined her husband, Gordon, at the bedside of Shaun, in Newcastle General Hospital.

He was on a ventilator, heavily sedated, in the hospital's paediatric intensive care unit and yesterday remained in a stable condition.

It is understood he suffered some lung damage as a result of the blaze.

Mr Blakelock, a postman, and the couple's other child, 13-year-old daughter Helen, were not in the house at the time of the fire.

Fire investigators continued to examine the house yesterday and found that the fire started in the kitchen, but have not yet identified the cause. Police confirmed there was nothing suspicious about the cause.

Local Durham County Councillor Dennis Southwell said alternative accommodation has been found for the Blakelocks.

He said people in the area have been distressed at the tragedy and have rallied round to support the family.

"I understand the local residents and community group is already collecting money.

"They lost everything in the fire and people want to do what they can to help them."