Bolton fatal house fire 'caused by halogen heater'

rosamond street scene
Image caption The father is being treated for injuries after jumping from a first floor window

A house fire which killed a mother and her three children was caused accidentally by a halogen heater, fire investigators have found.

The blaze broke out at a terraced house in Rosamond Street, Bolton, at about 09:00 BST on Saturday.

The victims were five-year-old Khadija Umerji, her brothers Yusuf, 10, and Hammad, 12, and their mother Anisha Umerji, 40.

The children's father Zubair Umerji jumped from the first floor.

He tried to smash through glass on the ground floor window to reach his family. He is being treated for his injuries.

Senior firefighter Tony Hunter said: "He was absolutely distraught, screaming [that] his wife and children were in there."

A neighbour, Fatima, said: "I heard screaming, banging and shouting. 'Save my kids, save my wife. Help. Help.'

"Everyone started to try to break the door and the windows but the flames were already all over.

"It is a loss to our neighbourhood. God bless their souls."

Image caption Flowers and teddies have been left at the family home

Their funerals will take place in Bolton on Tuesday.

Following a joint investigation, officers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) believe the fire was caused accidentally by a halogen heater in the living room at the front of the house.

Jim Hutton from GMFRS said: "We believe a halogen heater may have caught a sofa alight.

"We're looking into [how the heater came to be on]. We're trying to speak to the father following this tragedy to see if he can give us some more information."

The two youngest children attended Brandwood Primary School in Bolton.

In a statement the school said it had been a "privilege" to have been part of the lives of the Umerji family.

The school would do all it could to support them, it added.

Community safety teams and firefighters have since visited more than 200 homes in Bolton offering safety advice.

Chairman of the fire committee at Manchester City Council, councillor David Acton, urged people to check electrical appliances, plugs and cables and make sure they do not overload sockets.

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