‘Her foot was charred ... that was my baby’
When the call came at 10am, Geoffrey Dubois felt a stabbing pain rip through his heart.
His twin daughters Aisha and Lailani, three, were trapped in a blaze inside the family home in Batlow and his ex partner had been locked outside.
"I got the call when I was in town in Tumut and drove like a madman at 180k, 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 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.
"I want my babies. When I got the call I felt big pain in my heart. I don't know if I can recover from this."
Emergency workers smashed through the front door of the home and uncovered the identical twins huddled together holding hands in the front room of the home.
It is believed they had succumbed to dense smoke after their mother Tanyka Ford, 29, had been locked out of the house by the girls, according to a family member.
"What can I say? It happened so quickly, there was a fire … I've lost my baby girls," she told The Daily Telegraph.
"I'm speaking to mental health, I lost my children, it was an accident, it all went wrong so quickly."
Police have formed Strike Force Edmondson encompassing more than 30 officers to look at "everything" surrounding the circumstances of Monday's fire in Mayday Rd.
"It's a complex situation, it's a fire where two little ones have died, we don't want to leave a stone unturned, the more resources we have to look into everything the better," Riverina police detective Superintendent Bob Noble said.
"We are forensically gathering evidence to establish exactly what caused the fire.
"What happened was unspeakable, in decades to come it will be remembered as 'That horrible thing that happened in Batlow.'"
The girls' aunt Tammy Dubois said Tanyka was alerted by the smell of smoke in the house when she found the girls playing with a burning pillow beside a log fire in the pit in the front room.
When she went outside to dispose of it, the girls had playfully deadlocked the front door leaving her frantically fighting to get back inside, Mrs Dubois said.
Neighbour Stephen Cupid attempted to help break windows but neither were able to force entry until emergency crews arrived.
"We are all broken by what happened, those little girls were free spirits, they were always playing in nature and hated wearing clothes," their aunt Tammy Dubois added.
"They were six weeks premature so the development was slow and even though they can speak they have their own language that only they understood.
"They brought a lot of joy to our lives, Geoffrey doesn't want to be here, he says without them he doesn't want to live."
Ms Dubois said the girls had a habit of bolting the front door from inside.
"They were always doing it, the cheeky monkeys, they thought it was hilarious," she said.
"They had learnt how to lock the door from inside but couldn't unlock it whenever we asked them. It was part of them messing around."
Tanyka's sister Jazmyne Ford paid tribute to the girls, writing on social media: "Let's focus on the joy the twins brought to everyone'slives for the three years instead of the tragedy of one day."
In a warning about doors automatically locking from the inside she said "it is so easy to happen!
"I actually have never had a key to my door. Something I will befixing straight away.
"I can't get in my house from this front door- I have to use the back door. Please people, get keys to all your doors."
Their brother Levi had set up a gofundme page raising more than $10,000 in four days to help the family we build their lives.
He wrote "thank you so much everyone for the generosity you have shown, you've blown us away.
"My sister has lost everything."
Originally published as 'Her foot was charred ... that was my baby': Batlow father's agony