Police investigating cause of blaze in Withington that also left four children and another man in hospital
Firefighters were called to the blaze shortly before 2.30am on Friday. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA
Friday 10 February 2017 11.30 GMT Last modified on Friday 10 February 2017 13.20 GMT
A man and a woman have died and four children were taken to hospital after a fire broke out at a house in Manchester.
Firefighters were called to the blaze in Withington, south Manchester, shortly before 2.30am on Friday.
A man and a woman died at the scene, Greater Manchester police said. Three boys and a girl aged between 10 and 17 and another man were taken to hospital. Police and the Greater Manchester fire service launched a joint investigation into the cause of the blaze.
The man and woman are understood to be the parents of the children. The other man, who remains in hospital, is thought to be a relative who was visiting the family.
A neighbour who lives across the street said they were a “very private family” and she did not know them. “We’re all a bit shook up. I just heard screaming and saw the smoke,” she said.
Councillor David Acton, the chairman of Greater Manchester fire and rescue authority, praised firefighters for tackling the huge blaze.
He said: “It is with great sadness that we hear of the loss of two lives following a house fire in Manchester early this morning. Our thoughts are with the family members of the man and woman at this awful time.
“Our firefighters did a great job in tackling the house fire, which was well alight when they arrived, so praise must go to them for dealing with this difficult and extremely sad incident.
“Fire investigators are now working with the police to establish the cause of the blaze and are likely to remain in the area over the weekend.”
Neighbours said they were woken in the middle of the night by screams from near the detached home. One described how she heard a woman who lived at the property pleading with firefighters to “save my house, please save my house” as the property was engulfed in flames.
“I woke up at half two because I could hear screaming but it got more aggravated,” said Emily Puckering, 22, who lives opposite the damaged house. “Then I could hear the popping of the window expanding – I know the sound because I’ve had a house fire before.
“I looked out of my window and I could see thick black smoke – that shows how hot it was. The flames were coming out of the front door, it was an orange glow. It was a really big fire.”
Puckering, a student, said a police officer, making door-to-door inquiries, later asked her whether she had seen anyone “loitering around” before the blaze took hold.
Another neighbour, Athra Mania, said she was friends with a woman who lived at the house. She told the Manchester Evening News: “Our children go to the same school. They are very friendly and a very nice family. I saw her maybe two days ago. One of my friends told me what happened so I had to come down to see.”
Two upstairs bedrooms and the roof of the property appeared to have been badly damaged by the fire.
The road was cordoned off and police and fire service vehicles stood outside the house.
Fire and crime scene investigators wearing white body suits worked at the scene, taking photos and carrying equipment into the property.
DI Tony Lea, of Greater Manchester police, said: “My thoughts are with the family of the man and woman after such a tragic incident and we have specially trained officers supporting the family at this time.
“We are continuing to work closely with [the fire service] to establish exactly how this fire started and I urge anyone who may have witnessed the fire, or anyone in the area in the hours before the fire: if you have any information at all, contact police as soon as possible so we can piece together what happened.”
Rev Mark Hewerdine, a priest at the nearby church of St Chad’s, Ladybarn,, said the blaze has shocked the tight-knitcommunity.He said: “It’s an awful tragedy. As a parent it touches you quitedeeply to hear that children are involved … Some people have been around herea long time and people are upset and shaken up by it.”He added that his church would open at 6pm for prayers and that there would be a book of condolences for the family.