THREE infants died when a semi-permanent house burned to ashes on Monday night at Gera village on the Highlands Highway in Simbu Province.
Two young mothers aged 25 left their homes for a card game the next house just 15 meters away when the nightmare began.
Two five month old babies and a five year old child were on a common bed asleep when it is believed a nearby hurricane lamp caused the fire.
It is thought an outstretched arm or leg tipped the lamp over, spilling kerosene over the mattress.
The flames set the mattress alight and quickly spread to the pitpit wall.
The fire soon engulfed the building with flames and smoke so thick that no-one could rescue the kids.
It seems the mothers were engrossed in their card game and did not hear the children’s screams. There was also heavy rain at the time.
Rescuers were able to search through the ashes after about three hours and discovered nothing but the five year olds’ arm and shoulder.
The families also lost property worth thousands of kina and a kitchen also used as a piggery which went up in flames killing their pigs.
After the tragic incident was reported to the police, the CID detained the two mothers for further questioning.