Twin sisters died after removing grill from fireplace
A post mortem has revealed three-year-old twins Aisha and Lailani Ford died in a tragic inferno that started when they playfully removed a protective grill from the wood fireplace and set light to highly inflammable material in the family home.
Emergency crews pulled the sisters from the burning house at Batlow in the state's Snowy Mountains last Monday but they had succumbed to smoke and were found, holding hands, in the front room.
Their mother Tanyka Ford and six-year-old brother were locked outside when the blaze broke out.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Ms Ford, 29, was unable to get into the house through the back door that was forced shut by the sheer ferocity of the blaze which ripped through the home within minutes.
Screaming, she attempted to smash through the front door to get to her crying babies but it was bolted from within.
It is possible the girls dead bolted it from inside and were unable to release the lock.
While investigators continue to keep an open mind, Superintendent Bob Noble warned against "unhelpful" conjecture of foul play.
"At this stage it appeared the death of the twins was the result of misadventure, the flames were so strong they blocked the front door shut and Ms Ford was unable to get back inside.
"She had stepped out to remove a burning pillow, it appears, and couldn't get back in.
"There was highly flammable material in the house, as there are in most houses, and the fire spread quickly.
"It looks like the girls interfered with the fireplace which was the origin of the fire. It is for the coroner's inquest to determine cause of the death."
The Riverina Police Commander said arson detectives had formed strike force Edmondson to investigate "everything" in the circumstances that lead to the fire.
Ms Ford was interviewed last Thursday, and again, on Wednesday.
"It's very painful for the mother, as you can imagine, she's lost two children, she is receiving counselling as a matter of course," Superintendent Noble said.
"It appears the two young children may have accessed that fire ... kids are inquisitive, especially young children.
"You've got to remain very vigilant but you don't have eyes in the back of your head and you can't be with them 24/7, you can be as careful as you like but sometimes all it takes is a minute for things to go wrong. That appears to be the tragedy here."
The girls' bereaved mother has been left traumatised at the loss of her "beautiful babies".
"It happened so quickly, there was a fire … I've lost my baby girls, my beautiful babies… it was an accident," Ms Ford told The Daily Telegraph.
"It all went wrong so quickly. I do not know how to come back from this."
The twins' father Geoffrey Dubois has been left scarred by the harrowing sight of a paramedic carrying one of his dead daughters out of the fire.
"I got the call when I was in town in Tumut and drove like a mad man … I saw firemen and ambulances, I tried to break in but people pulled me away," the 28-year-old said.
"Then I saw a paramedic carry one of the girls out in a blanket, her foot was charred, she was black.
"That's was my baby, I think it was Aisha.
"I'm lost, I don't know what to do, or think, it hasn't sunk in."
Originally published as Batlow twin girls died when they removed grill from fireplace