Police have denied that a blaze which killed four children in Stafford last week was caused by cannabis growing or a faulty boiler, after online speculation.
Riley Holt, eight, Keegan Unitt, six, Tilly Rose Unitt, four, and Olly Unitt, three, all perished in the devastating fire last Tuesday as it tore through a suburban home in the Midlands town.
Their mother and father, Natalie Unitt, 24, and her partner Chris Moulton, 28, were arrested shortly afterwards, but were released on bail having been questioned by police on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter.
A spokesman for Staffordshire Police told the BBC they could ‘rule out cannabis growth and also do not believe the boiler is involved’ after social media speculation.
Left to right: Keegan Unitt, six, Tilly Rose Unit, four, Olly Unitt, three, and Riley Holt, died in the blaze in Stafford in the early hours of yesterday morning
The investigation into the incident is still ongoing.
The parents leapt from the first-floor window with their youngest child, Jack, two, after the inferno broke out.
Staffordshire Police said on Saturday evening that they had released the 24-year-old woman and 28-year-old man on bail while inquiries continue.
The couple’s sons, Olly, three, and Keegan, six, died alongside their daughter Tilly, four, and Miss Unitt’s eldest child, Riley, eight, who was from an earlier relationship.
Mr Moulton is understood to have received treatment for burns and Ms Unitt for smoke inhalation.
It remains unclear what caused the fire but early suggestions have pointed to a ‘gas explosion’, which could have been sparked by a faulty boiler.
Workmen boarded up the fire-ravaged house today as police left the scene.
The couple were arrested at about 1.30pm on Friday, with Staffordshire Police warning the public not to jump to conclusions.
Parents Natalie Unitt, 24, and Chris Moulton, 28, have now been released on bail following their arrest
On Saturday, the force said: ‘A 24-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence following a house fire in Stafford have been bailed while inquiries continue.’
Noting the ‘huge impact on the community’, officers called for the public not to speculate as to the circumstances of the fire.
Family members had earlier insisted that the parents had done nothing wrong.
One, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Sun Online: ‘They’re grieving for the kids they’ve lost, they’re just out of hospital and now banged up in a cell. We don’t understand why.
Parents Natalie Unitt and Chris Moulton sit behind children killed in fire (left to right) Tilly, who was four, Keegan, who was six, Olly, who was three, and Riley, who was eight. The picture is from 2016 before they had baby Jack, now two, who survived the blaze with his parents
‘Their baby got pulled out alive and now he’s traumatised. His three brothers and sister have gone and he just wants to be comforted by his mum and dad.’
Firefighters, police and ambulance crews scrambled to the house in Stafford at around 2.40am, on Tuesday.
Witnesses reportedly heard mum-of-five Natalie screaming: ‘My babies, my babies!’ as the fire tore through the family home.
Part of the roof collapsed, with the windows smashed and the inside appearing to have been blackened by smoke.
A fundraising page set up for the family of the four children has since reached over £28,500 – with more than 1,800 people donating money.
Police have left the scene where four children died on Tuesday in a house fire in Stafford, with workmen boarding up the property
The cause of the devastating house fire remains unclear, though it is thought to be because of a gas explosion
A spokeswoman for South Staffordshire Coroner’s Court said the post-mortem examinations of the four children have not yet been completed but their file had been passed to the coroner.
Emotional tributes have been paid to the youngsters, with teachers describing them as ‘bright, happy, loving and lively’.
Nicola Glover, headteacher of Castlechurch Primary School where three of the four dead children went, said staff and pupils were ‘absolutely devastated’.
Firefighters and police officers formed a guard of honour for the children as they were removed from the scene in Stafford by private ambulances
Police say four children died in the blaze and two adults, believed to be the children’s parents, were rushed to hospital along with another child
She described Riley as a ‘very confident, excitable member of school who came every day full of enthusiasm’, while Tilly, who attended the nursery, was a ‘happy little girl’ who ‘loved to read stories, dress up and paint’.
Mrs Glover said Olly, who was also at nursery, was a ‘happy, loving boy who loved cuddles’.
Kim Ellis, head at Marshlands School, where Keegan was a pupil, said he was ‘full of fun and mischief with a really endearing smile’.