Manchester

Salford house fire 'targeted attack'

Brandon and Lacie Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Brandon and Lacie died in hospital

A house fire which killed three children was a "targeted attack", police have said.

Demi Pearson, 14, Brandon, eight, and Lacie, seven, died, while Lia, three, and mother Michelle, 35, remain in hospital.

Ms Pearson's son, Kyle, and a friend both escaped from the home, in Salford, before fire crews arrived.

Six people have now been arrested, after a 25-year-old man was held on suspicion of murder.

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Media caption"Words cannot describe" how a family feels after losing three children, police say.
Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Michelle Pearson is in a serious condition in hospital

Ch Supt Wayne Miller of Greater Manchester Police said detectives believe the attack was targeted after collecting CCTV from the area.

"We now have a much deeper understanding of the devastating events which lead to the tragic deaths," he said.

Ch Supt Miller said relatives of the family have been left "completely devastated".

"The loss of a child in any circumstance is unthinkable, to lose three in such deplorable circumstances words cannot describe.

"My heart breaks for them, it really does.

"We're doing all that we can to get them the answers they quite rightly deserve."

Two men, aged 19 and 20, arrested on suspicion of murder have been released on bail, as has a 24-year-old man arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender.

Officers visited the house in Jackson Street, Walkden, a few hours before the blaze, which happened at about 05:00 GMT on Monday.

Police confirmed there had been previous incidents at the family's home.

The case has been referred by GMP to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which confirmed an investigation had started.

It feels it is "necessary to independently investigate the circumstances of this incident in relation to the force's actions".

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Image caption Demi Pearson, 14, was a pupil at Harrop Fold School in Salford
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Media captionPolice were filmed leading one of the suspects away after his arrest

The children's schools have paid tribute to them.

Demi Pearson was a pupil at Harrop Fold School in Salford, which featured in the Channel 4 documentary Educating Greater Manchester.

Head teacher Drew Povey said everyone at the school was "truly devastated".

"Team Harrop mourns alongside the relatives and friends of those whose lives were needlessly and mercilessly taken from them. The spirit of Salford cannot and will not be crushed. We will work together to comfort and rebuild those lives that have been forever changed," he said.

Emma Henderson, head teacher at Bridgewater Primary school, said the school is consoling pupils and their families.

"Our school is very much part of this special community and understands the intense pain experienced at this senseless loss of precious life," she said.

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