May 11 2012
A woman has been arrested on suspicion of murder after five children died in a house fire.
A sixth child has been taken to hospital for specialist treatment following the blaze in a semi-detached house in Allenton in Derby.
Derbyshire's Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill revealed news of the arrest at a press conference 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 fought to rescue them from the first floor of the council house and Mr Cotterill said the father had made a "valiant attempt" to save the youngsters, who were aged between five and ten.
All five children went to St George's Catholic Primary School in Littleover, Derby, a school spokeswoman said.
A statement from the school said: "We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and community at this sad time. Whilst this is under police investigation, we are unable to make further comment."
The father was named locally as Mick Philpott.
Mr Cotterill refused to confirm the identities of the family, saying it would be inappropriate and insensitive to do so at this stage and asked people not to read too much into the arrest of the woman.
"It is a matter of a police inquiry, where we have had to act very quickly to preserve any evidence which may feature later in the inquiry." It was "potentially" a murder inquiry, he added.
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.