The girls had been playing with the pillow next to a wood burner in the front room of the family’s Batlow home before the smell of smoke caught the attention of their mother Tanyka, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Aisha and Lailani died on Monday after being pulled from their burning home by Fire and Rescue NSW crews, who forced entry in the burning home. Superintendent Bob Noble from the Riverina Police District said officers were looking at the case with an “open mind” as they established Strike Force Edmondson to investigate the circumstances around the fire.
RELATED: Twin girls killed in house fire in Batlow
Emergency crews were called to the home on Mayday Rd about 11am on Monday with reports of a house fire.
Crews had to force entry into the home through the dead bolted door, and found Aisha and Lailani unresponsive. The twins were found huddled together in an unconscious state holding each other’s hands.
They were pulled from the home by Fire and Rescue NSW officers, and despite efforts from first responders at the scene, they died at the scene.
“There must have been something else burning in the front room, Tanyka was screaming at them to unlock the door but they didn’t, the poor darlings would have been scared,” their aunt, Tammy Dubois told The Daily Telegraph.
“Our hearts are broken.”
Their mother and brother, six, were outside the home at the time of the fire, according to police.
Supt Noble says police would look at all sources of possible ignition, including the fireplace burning on the day.
“These are two little babies that lived a short life, and they died suddenly, unexpectedly and in horrific circumstances,” Supt Noble said on Tuesday.
“It’s apparent the fire spread quite quickly as they quite often can … You’ve got vulnerable children in that situation, the outcome is quite often catastrophic.”
The girls’ mother and brother were interviewed twice on Tuesday as well as neighbours, first responders and their father, who police say was in Tumut at the time.
“The mother spoke to investigators last night. She was traumatised but did assist investigators in so far as she was able to,” Supt Noble said.
He described the Fire and Rescue NSW officers who pulled the girls out of the house as “heroic”, adding the family, the Batlow community and first responders were “emotionally shaken”.
“There is a community that is severely affected by the deaths of these two young people, they were babies, they were twin girls, and it’s a community that’s been through the devastation of recent times with bushfires,” he said.
“The people of Batlow are doing it very hard.”