Oct 18 2012
Tests carried out at the scene of a house fire which killed a woman and four of her children suggest that the blaze may have started accidentally.
Police investigating the blaze in Harlow, Essex, on Monday say they are not ruling any possibility out and are continuing to investigate the possibility that it was an arson attack.
However, early results suggest the blaze started in the lounge at the rear of the house and that no accelerant, such as petrol, was used.
Doctor Sabah Usmani, her sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayyan, six, and 12-year-old daughter Hira died in their end-of-terrace house in Barn Mead, Harlow, in the early hours of Monday.
A third son, Muneeb, nine, and second daughter Maheen, three, were rescued by fire crews and taken to hospital in a critical condition but Muneeb later died.
Ms Usmani's husband, Abdul Shakoor, also a doctor, suffered minor injuries as he fought to rescue his family from the blaze.
Detective Superintendent Rob Vinson said officers were continuing to investigate "many lines of inquiry".
Forensic work at the property is nearing completion and experts have so far found no evidence that an accelerant was used to spark the blaze. Essex Police said investigators could not yet draw final conclusions but the possibility of a tragic accident is now considered increasingly likely.
Mr Vinson said: "We know already from the fire service and our own findings that temperatures would have been extremely high, with thick toxic smoke permeating the house.
"Initial indications show that the fire appears to have taken hold in the lounge area, which is at the rear of the property. The ferocity of the blaze has made the forensic work more challenging."