Two people died in a stolen car which exploded in flames as it crashed into a number of parked cars.
Police were called to reports of an aggravated burglary at a house in Farnworth, near Bolton, at about 8.25pm yesterday.
A red Audi car was stolen in the raid and was then spotted by a passing police car travelling on the opposite carriageway of the A580 East Lancashire Road.
The Audi then went out of sight of the police car and 10 minutes later police were informed the Audi had hit a number of parked cars in Boothstown, Salford.
Officers attended along with firefighters from the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service as the blazes were brought under control.
The driver and the passenger of the stolen car were pronounced dead at the scene. There were no other reported casualties.
Nine cars and four houses were damaged in the incident, said Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.
Assistant Chief Constable Zoe Sheard said: "We are still in the very early stages of our inquiries to establish exactly what happened, so it is important we do not speculate.
"Two people have died as a result of this collision and our focus is now on identifying who those people are and informing their families.
"At this early stage of the inquiry, what we know is that the police officers responded to a report of a stolen car which passed them on the East Lancashire Road.
"The stolen Audi was lost from sight by the time the officers had turned round to give pursuit, and while they were still actively searching for the car at the time of the collision the Audi itself was completely out of sight.
"I completely understand that residents living on Leigh Road will be absolutely shocked and upset to see the aftermath of this collision and the damage caused to a number of people's homes.
"I want to assure everyone that a thorough investigation will take place into the circumstances surrounding the incident and we will continue to keep the community informed with any developments.
"There will be a heavy police presence in the area in the coming days so I would urge anyone with either any information about what happened or who has concerns to approach an officer."
Greater Manchester Police has made a mandatory referral of the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Watch manager Terry Hand, from Eccles fire station, said: "When we arrived there appeared to be a line of vehicles severely involved in fire, it was like a wall of flames and we knew we had to get as much water as possible onto the cars.
"We were informed that there had been numerous calls suggesting that people were involved and we were also concerned about people trapped in houses.
"A small number of houses were damaged by smoke and windows were smashed due to the intense heat and others were struck by debris and parts of the cars that were flying all over the place. Nine vehicles were damaged, six of which were involved in the fire."
Firefighters were on the scene for around four hours as they used jets, hose reels and foam.