A two-year-old boy was killed and his mother and brother left fighting for their lives after an early morning blaze.
Stacey Ellard was sleeping with her young sons Cian, two, and four-year-old Calvin when the fire broke out.
The alarm was raised at 4am when smoke and flames were spotted from the property in Elm Park, Wilton, Co Cork.
Desperate neighbours who smashed a window and pushed open the front door tried in vain to save the young family before they were overcome by dense smoke.
Edward Buckley, of Cork City Fire Brigade, said crews extinguished an intense fire contained in the kitchen before they recovered the three in the same bedroom upstairs.
“All three were unconscious,” he said.
“They were sleeping when the fire broke out.”
The three were given CPR at the scene before being rushed to Cork University Hospital, where Cian died.
Gardaí said his mother and brother, who started primary school in September, remain in a serious condition.
Mr Buckley revealed while crews are prepared for fatalities, the death of a child is heartbreaking.
“We are all parents and grandparents so it’s very hard. There were a lot of sad men going home this morning,” he added.
Forensic officers are examining the exact cause of the blaze, which is believed to be accidental.
Investigations are focusing on the cooker and if it been left on or had an electrical fault.
Ms Ellard, who is aged in her late 20s, and her children recently moved to the terraced house from the Deanrock estate, where her family live. It is understood her partner is serving a prison sentence for drug offences.
Parish priest Fr Robert Brophy, who said prayers for all three during masses in Togher, said people in the area are distressed by what happened.
“It’s very upsetting for the family, our prayers go out to them,” he said.
“Togher is a lovely close-knit, nice, supportive community and they will rally around.”
Fergal Dennehy, of Togher Community Association, said everyone was shocked at the tragic news.
“We would like to offer our prayers for those in hospital and hope they pull through,” he said.
“Obviously we want to offer our condolences to the family on the tragic loss of such a young life.
“People are shocked something like this could happen. It’s terrible for a family to wake up to this.”
Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer said it was a sad day for everyone involved.
“My sympathies go to the family and I hope Stacey and Calvin pull through, it’s such a tragic event,” he added.
Meanwhile Mr Buckley appealed to householders to be aware of fire safety, particularly at night.
“Double check everything before you go to bed,” he said.
“Most of these situations are accidents. A lot of it is complacency which has very serious outcomes.
“You pay the ultimate price. There is one very sad family today.”