Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 15:10 UK

Parents' tribute to fire children

Torquay fire
Neighbours rescued the parents from their burning home

The parents of two children who died in a house fire on Saturday have spoken about their loss.

Stephanie Wojak, 15, and her eight-year-old foster brother Ben McAuliffe died after being rescued from their home in Ellacombe Church Road, Torquay.

Michael and Gill Wojak said they had lost two loving children.

"It has just hit us watching other parents taking their kids to school - that a normal Monday morning will never happen again," a statement said.

"We will never walk them to school again."

"We would like thank everyone for their kind words, the flowers and messages left at the house."

Michael and Gill Wojak were rescued from the fire by two neighbours, who are to be nominated for bravery awards.

Their eldest son, 20-year-old Ricky, also escaped from the fire before the emergency services arrived.

Stephanie and Ben were rescued by firefighters and rushed to Torbay Hospital, where they later died.

It is thought both children suffered cardiac arrests as a result of smoke inhalation.

Stephanie Wojak and Ben McAuliffe
Stephanie and Ben were well-liked by pupils at their respective schools

The investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing, but it has been confirmed there were no smoke detectors in the house.

Stephanie was a pupil at Westlands School in Torquay and head teacher Mike Stewart described the teenager as a "delightful girl who was liked by everyone".

Ben was fostered by the Wojaks when he was a baby.

He was autistic, had learning difficulties and attended Combe Pafford special school.

The school's head teacher said he was a "well-liked lad who was doing well".

Speaking to BBC News, Group Commander Ray Harris from Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service appealed to people to install alarms and check them regularly.

"I've worked for the fire service for 26 years and I personally have never been to a fire where someone has actually died where smoke alarms were fitted and working correctly," he said.


Lynne Plant said Jon Stokoe and another neighbour rescued the children's parents

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