Mother 'key witness' in Redcar 'murder' blaze inquiry

Jessica and Catriona Braithwaite
Image caption Catriona (right) is critically ill after the fire that killed her sister Jessica (left) and father

A woman whose husband and daughter died in a house fire which is being treated as arson is a "key witness", police have said.

Philip Braithwaite, 49, and his daughter Jessica, seven, died after the fire at their home in Hawthorn Road, Redcar, on 2 Monday.

Cleveland Police have launched a murder inquiry and said Christine Braithwaite, 51, was a witness in the "tragic case".

No-one else is being sought in connection with the fire, police said.

Mrs Braithwaite's other daughter, Catriona, nine, is in a critical but stable condition. Mrs Braithwaite was not in the house at the time of the fire.

Police said the fire was started in the lounge of the house and that it spread quickly.

Mr Braithwaite and Jessica were on the first floor.

Det Sgt Paul Husband, of Cleveland Police, said: "Catriona has been receiving treatment at James Cook University Hospital for the past few days and she remains in a critical but stable condition in intensive care.

Image caption Mr Braithwaite and Jessica were on the first floor

"Specially trained family liaison officers are supporting Mrs Braithwaite who is a key witness in this tragic case.

"Our inquiries are still ongoing and I can confirm we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

"We are currently in the process of obtaining evidence for a future inquest on behalf of HM Coroner."

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