Fears for family after 'arson attack'

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A millionaire and his family were missing today after their country estate was burned down in suspected arson attack.

Police launched a major investigation following the blaze in Maesbrook, near Oswestry, Shropshire, which broke out shortly before 5am yesterday.

It is not known if Jillian and Christopher Foster and their teenage daughter Kirsty were in Osbaston House at the time of the fire, but all three remained unaccounted for today.

The country house, which has a stable block and kennels, is reportedly worth £1.2 million. Due to the severity of the fire, officers have been unable to enter the property but a full search will take place when the scene is deemed safe, police said. CCTV footage has been recovered from the property and around 80 officers and staff are working on the investigation, named Operation Feedback.

Detective Superintendent Jon Groves, from West Mercia Constabulary's Major Incident Unit, said: "There was a CCTV system at the property, which has been recovered by officers and will be examined over the coming days.

"The house, a garage and stable block and another outbuilding were severely damaged. Two horses in the stable and another in the outbuilding have been found dead. Two dogs, which we believe were in a kennel block, are missing.

"A search will be carried out of the property to establish if anybody was inside as soon as the building is deemed to be safe. Forensic investigators have been at the scene and house-to-house inquiries carried out."

Anybody with information is asked to contact police urgently on 08457 444 888 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.