A WOMAN has been arrested on suspicion of murder after five children died in a house fire today.
A sixth child was taken to hospital for specialist treatment following the 4am blaze in a semi-detached house in Allenton in Derby.
Derbyshire’s Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill revealed news of the arrest but he stressed that detectives were keeping an open mind about the cause of the fire. He said the arrested woman is in her 20s.
The children’s parents, neighbours and firefighters battled to rescue them from the first floor of the council house.
Mr Cotterill said the father had made a “valiant attempt” to save the youngsters, who were aged between five and ten.
The father was named locally as Mick Philpott.
“There appear to have been valiant attempts by the father to rescue his children,” Mr Cotterill said.
He refused to confirm the identities of the family, saying it would be inappropriate and insensitive to do so at this stage.
“Our thoughts are with the parents and the family of the children for their tragic loss,” he said.
Police are continuing to work with the fire service to try to establish the cause of the blaze, Mr Cotterill said, and he was not prepared to speculate on what it was.
It was “potentially” a murder inquiry, he added.
“At the moment we are keeping a very, very open mind as to the cause of the fire.”
Mr Cotterill said eight people were living in the house on a permanent basis, though there might be other people who stayed there on an ad-hoc basis.
The children had been asleep upstairs.