A TERRIFYING blaze which ripped through a home and killed a mother and her six-year-old son was one of the worst some veteran firefighters had ever seen.

As they approached the burning home in Broadstone Way, Holme Wood, in the early hours of April 8, 2003, the fire could be seen through the early morning dark skies.

David Swales, Bradford’s station officer at the time, said as they approached the semi-detached house he could see a large black column of smoke emerging from the roof tops.

“When we got there the house was well alight,” he said.

“Local residents were trying to rescue the family.

“People were very distressed.”

Photographs of the scene show a huge fireball erupting from the front door of the home, blocking the exit and leaving emergency crews to battle through the inferno.

At first, the crew were told that up to four people were in the house and they tried to get in through the front door into the front bedroom via a ladder and through the back of the house.

“It was hectic and the information was confused,” Mr Swales recalled.

“We were trying to get in but the heat was driving us back.

After several attempts the firefighters got into the front bedroom through the window and found the body of six-year-old Mark Clough.

They went back and found the body of his mother, 38-year-old Denise Clough.

A black mass stretching from the doorway to the roof covered the home as daylight dawned and the cold light of day revealed the lasting damage caused by the shocking fire.

Two of Mrs Clough’s other children, 17-year-old Andrew McCafferty and 12-year-old Simon Clough, managed to escape the fire.

It is thought the fire started in the living room and was immediately treated as suspicious.

Numerous bunches of flowers and toys were placed outside the home in the days that followed, while the community spoke of the devastation and loss surrounding the fire.

Speaking at the time, Mrs Clough's youngest sister, Joanne, said the family had been comforted by the sympathy cards, flowers and teddy bears left outside the house.

She said: "One particular card says her motto was that anything she had got, we could have too."

People also wrote about how they would miss going to the mum's house for a coffee and spending time with her.

Mark was a Year One pupil at Fearnville Primary School, in Fearnville Drive, and was described as popular, friendly and eager to please by headteacher Catherine Butler.

Two Bradford firefighters were also taken to hospital for treatment for blistering to their face and hands after battling their way through the intense flames in a desperate attempt to reach the family.

Six firefighters were honoured for their bravery in trying to rescue the mother and son.

Chris Burke, Lee Indriks, Anthony Hill, Robert Hudson, Robert Wardman and Ian Moxon were all presented with commendation certificates by West Yorkshire assistant chief fire officer Allan Hughes.

He said: "The actions of the crews involved in the incident were above and beyond the call of duty although loss of life was tragically not prevented, they still maintained the highest traditions of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service."

He said it was very rare to award commendations, with only one or two given in the region each year.

"Their breathing apparatus sets were destroyed - these guys have gone into a situation where they could easily have lost their own lives," he added.

Although almost two decades have now passed since the fire, no one has ever been brought to justice for their deaths and the police and fire service refused to give updates on the investigation.

Three men were arrested the day after the fire and detectives investigated whether it was linked to an argument outside the family home two days earlier.

Another five men were questioned on suspicion of making threats to kill, but no further action was taken.

The inquest was told Mrs Clough’s teenage son might have sparked the blaze when he cut a live cable. But investigators could not rule out the possibility the fire was started by a discarded cigarette or was an arson attack.