A sixth person has been arrested in connection with an arson attack that killed three children in Greater Manchester.
Five people were taken into custody overnight in connection with the murder of Demi Pearson, 14, her eight-year-old brother Brandon and seven-year-old sister Lacie following the blaze in Worsley on Monday.
The children’s 35-year-old mother, Michelle Pearson, is in a serious condition in hospital while a fourth sibling, three-year-old Lia, is critically ill.
Three men aged 23, 20 and 19, and a 20-year-old woman, are being questioned on suspicion of murder, while a 24-year-old man is also being questioned on suspicion of assisting an offender.
Emergency services at the scene (Peter Byrne/PA)
On Tuesday, Greater Manchester Police revealed that a 25-year-old man has now been arrested on suspicion of the three murders and the attempted murder of Michelle and Lia.
The 19-year-old man and 20-year-old man have since been released on bail, the force said.
Speaking at a press conference, Chief Superintendent Wayne Miller said: “I can’t imagine what the family are going through.”
He added: “My heart breaks for them, it really does.”
Mr Miller said the force was “so grateful to members of the public who have come forward and given us information” and said there was a greater police presence on the streets as a result of the attack.
Since the tragedy it has emerged that the Pearson family had been living under threat, sources have confirmed.
Security measures were put in place at the mid-terrace home, including the fitting of a device to the property’s letterbox.
The arrangements, known as target hardening, are generally used to strengthen a building to protect it in the event of an attack.
A large police presence remained at the scene throughout the day (Peter Byrne/PA)
Greater Manchester Police confirmed there had been “earlier incidents” at the address and said the force had made a self-referral to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
It is understood the voluntary referral was in response to police contact with the family less than 24 hours before the fatal incident.
Emergency services were called to the address in Jackson Street just before 5am on Monday.
Two 16-year-old boys – Ms Pearson’s son, Kyle, and a friend – were also in the house and freed themselves before fire crews arrived and put out the blaze.
Kyle reportedly tried to get back into the home to help family members but was beaten back by flames and smoke.
It is understood one line of inquiry is that the culprit may have climbed up scaffolding outside the property to pour fuel down the chimney.
Fire investigators have used an aerial platform to examine the location.
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