Five people have been arrested in connection with the devastating fire at a home in Salford on Monday, which killed three children and left a three-year-old girl and their mother in a serious condition in hospital.
Emergency services were called to the house in Worsley at around 5am on Monday, where five people were rescued from the house.
A 14-year-old girl, named as Demi Pearson, died at the scene. Her eight-year-old brother Brandon and seven-year-old sister Lacie later died in hospital.
The children’s mother, 35-year-old Michelle Pearson, remains seriously ill. She has reportedly been sedated and has not yet been told of the death of her children. Her three-year-old daughter, Lia, is also in hospital in a critical condition.
Greater Manchester Police have arrested three men aged 23, 20, and 18, and a 20-year-old woman on suspicion of murder. Officers have also arrested a 24-year-old man on suspicion of assisting an offender. They remain in custody for questioning.
The children’s 16-year-old brother Kyle and his friend Bobby Harris managed to escape the blaze before emergency services arrived.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Kyle said he was awoken by his mother “screaming” about the fire.
“I fell asleep and the next thing I knew was I could hear my mum screaming ‘fire!’. There was lots of smoke so I climbed out of an upstairs window.”
Kyle told the newspaper that he tried to get back in the house but was hit by a cloud of smoke in the face. He tried to break down the front door and managed to smash a window, but was unable to re-enter the property due to the fire and smoke.
The family had been living under threat, the Press Association reported, adding security measures had been put in place at the home, including fitting a device to the property’s letterbox.
The arrangements, known as target hardening, are generally used to strengthen buildings against attack.
Police confirmed there had been “earlier incidents” at the address and said the force had made a self-referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
It is understood the voluntary referral was in response to police contact with the family less than 24 hours before the fatal incident.
A police spokesperson said it would be inappropriate to comment on the reports the family has been living under threat due to the IPCC investigation.
Chief Superintendent Wayne Miller told the BBC the tragedy was “the murder, using fire, of three children, and we have a three-year-old girl fighting for her life”.
Officers are keeping an open mind about whether the fire could have been related to organised crime, he told the broadcaster, and said the children’s deaths will “devastate this family forever”.
Additional reporting by PA