Murder probe after toddler dies in fire

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The Independent Online

A murder inquiry was under way today following the death of a toddler in a flat fire, police said.

The 19-month-old girl died in hospital after the blaze in a first-floor flat in Camberwell, south east London, early yesterday morning.

Acting Detective Chief Inspector Rick Murphy, from the Met Police, said: "This fire has wrecked the lives of those involved and I am looking to the community to help us piece together what happened."

Fire crews used thermal imaging cameras and breathing apparatus as they attempted to rescue the five people trapped in the building.

All five, including a woman in her 40s, a woman in her 20s, a teenage girl, a four-year-old boy and the toddler, were taken to hospital.

Police said the two women and the boy were in a serious condition. The teenage girl was said to be in a "critical" condition.

The two-bedroom flat, in Arnould Avenue, a residential area of Camberwell, was destroyed by the fire.

A police spokesman said: "Police were called at 4.38am to a fire at a residential premises on Arnould Avenue, SE5.

"Officers from London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service attended.

"The fire is being treated as unexplained at this moment.

"Officers are working alongside London Fire Brigade to establish the cause of the fire."

A London Fire Brigade spokeswoman said "100% of the two-bedroom flat on the first floor was damaged by fire.

"Five people were rescued by a crew using breathing apparatus who entered the building via the internal staircase.

"They were unconscious and suffering from smoke inhalation."

A London Ambulance Service spokesman said staff treated five patients at the scene.

"All were taken to hospital in a serious condition," he said.

A total of eight ambulances and four fire engines attended the blaze.

A post-mortem examination into the toddler's death would be arranged shortly, police said.