The death of a seven-year-old boy in a house fire in Deptford is being treated as murder, police have confirmed.
Joel Urhie was killed in the blaze in the early hours of Tuesday morning. His mother and sister managed to escape the fire at their home in south east London.
Detective Superintendent Jane Corrigan, of Lewisham Police, said: “An innocent seven-year-old boy has lost his life in what should have been the safest place for him, his home.
“We’re treating this as a murder investigation.
“We believe that the fire was started deliberately but at this stage I am unable to go into any further detail due to operational reasons.
“We have no idea what the motive for this attack was.
“We’ve got no suspects at this time.”
His father, John Urhie, told reporters at the scene: “It’s terrible, the pain we cannot forget.”
He added: “He played with everyone around here. He was a very nice looking boy.”
London Fire Brigade said six fire engines and approximately 35 firefighters were called to the fire on Adolphus Street.
The service said: “Firefighters arrived to find a very severe fire inside the house. The ground floor was badly damaged by the blaze, as well as the whole of the first floor and the stairs from the ground to the first floor.
“Two women jumped from first floor level shortly before the first firefighters arrived at scene. They were both treated at the scene by firefighters and London Ambulance Service crews.
“Sadly, a seven-year-old boy was found deceased by firefighters inside the property.
“The Brigade was called at 3.25am and the fire was brought under control by 4.48am. Fire crews from Dockhead, Greenwich, New Cross and Lewisham fire stations attended the incident.
“The Metropolitan Police are treating the fire as suspicious. The cause of the fire is under investigation.”
Scotland Yard confirmed it had started an arson investigation following the blaze. No arrests have been made.
A family friend who asked not to be named, described Joel as a “very quiet” boy who lived in the house with his mother, a nurse, and his sister.
Describing the mother, she said: “She’s just an angel. She would come to anyone’s aid.
“Everybody living on this street would know her. She’s that type of person.
“She’s very caring, she’s selfless. This should not be happening.”
She added: “She doesn’t deserve this. She’s so nice, a very law-abiding citizen.”
Clive Stagg, 64, said he was alerted to the blaze from his nearby flat when he heard a woman screaming.
“I heard a screaming woman and came down here and all hell was breaking loose,” he said.
“I called the fire brigade about 3am but they had already been called. I walked around here as the fire brigade pulled up.
“I have never seen anything like it. The whole house was ablaze. You couldn’t even get near it, even if you would have tried.”
Next-door neighbour Andre Pavanello, 21, said: “There was really, really loud screaming.
“As I came out here I heard screaming and the front of the window smashed.
“I think they had to smash the window to get out and they had to jump out because the fire was getting too big.”
He added: “I think that he (Joel) was trapped inside the room because the flames were way too big to start with.”