Freckleton fire: Teen arrested on suspicion of murder

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Media captionDet Ch Insp Neil Esseen renewed an appeal for information

An 18-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering three young children and their older brother in a house fire in Lancashire.

Reece Smith, 19, four-year-old twins Holly and Ella Smith and two-year-old Jordan Smith died in the fire in Freckleton on Saturday night.

Police said the blaze was started in a wardrobe in the children's bedroom in the converted bungalow in Lytham Road.

The arrested man is not a member of the family, a police spokesman confirmed.

He was arrested by officers at an address in Lytham on Wednesday morning.

Speaking from the scene, Det Ch Insp Neil Esseen, said: "Following an extensive examination of the scene by fire and police investigators, I can now confirm that we are treating this house fire as suspicious.

"We are at the very early stages of a major investigation and we are following a number of different lines of inquiry.

"I would renew our appeal for anyone who could assist our investigation to please come forward as a matter of urgency.

Image caption Reece, Ella, Holly and Jordan Smith were found in two attic bedrooms of the dormer bungalow

"It is still unclear as to what happened in the lead up to (the fire) but we are currently building that case now.

"This is a tragic incident and our thoughts remain with the family at such a difficult time."

Post-mortem tests confirmed the four, who were found in two attic bedrooms, had died from the effects of breathing in smoke.

Their mother, Michelle Smith, 36, was led from the house by firefighters. She was not seriously injured.

The mother-of-nine had been celebrating her birthday on Saturday and a party had been held in the house.

Det Ch Insp Esseen confirmed there were a number of people in the house at the time the fire was started and they were being spoken to by officers, but there were no other young children present at the time.

He said Mrs Smith was being cared for by a police family liaison officer.

Initial investigations by Lancashire Fire and Rescue and Lancashire Police suggest smoke alarms in the house had not been working.

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