A house blaze that killed four children was the “most tragic” case a chief fire officer has faced in 28 years’ service.
Becci Bryant spoke ahead of the funeral for the children, aged between three and eight, who died in Stafford.
Riley Holt, eight, Keegan Unitt, six, Tilly Rose Unitt, four, and Olly Unitt, three, all died on 5 February.
“The magnitude of losing four children under the age of 10 is extraordinary,” Ms Bryant, Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service chief, said.
“I am not afraid to say that before I drove home I needed to stop and have a cry about what I had seen and what the impact had been on the crews right then and there.
“I hope I never, and none of my staff ever, have to go through something like that again.”
A private funeral service later will be preceded by a procession though the Highfields estate, where the children lived.
Although the funeral is for relatives and close friends only, the family suggested neighbours could show support by putting teddy bears or toys in their windows.
The procession will move off from about 12:00 GMT, with the funeral taking place at Stafford Crematorium.
How the children died remains “yet to be ascertained” but Staffordshire Police have ruled out an exploding boiler and cannabis growth as the cause of the fire.
Ms Bryant said the fire service is continuing to support the police investigation.
A 24-year-old woman and a man, 28, who were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence have been released while inquiries continue.
The children’s mother, Natalie Unitt and her partner, Chris Moulton survived the fire along with the siblings’ two-year-old brother, Jack.
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