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Sunday, 12 May, 2002, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Five sisters die in house fire
Fire-damaged windows at house
Four people managed to flee the fire
Six people - including five young sisters - have died in a house fire in the Birkby area of Huddersfield.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police say they are treating the fire as "suspicious" and neighbours have reported seeing two men running away from the scene.

The "horrific" fire broke out at the terraced property, owned by an Asian family, at 0200 BST on Sunday.

The dead sisters are aged between six months and 13-years-old. One adult also died and another is still unaccounted for.

The tragedy has just touched my heart. It's truly shocking

Abida Latif, neighbour

Detective Superintendent Bob Bridgestock said investigations were at an early stage but it appeared that 11 people lived in the house on Osborne Road.

Four had managed to escape and two of those had broken a window and jumped from the smoke and flames.

He confirmed five children had died and said one adult was still unaccounted for.

Two people were critically ill in hospital, he said.

"This was an horrific incident. It has devastated the family.

"This is cosmopolitan area. It is a nice area and it was a truly horrific fire."

Police seal off Osborne Road
Police sealed off the street

The fire started at the front of the house at ground level and had spread quickly destroying the staircase, he added.

The injured were taken to hospitals in Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester.

Police say they are not treating the fire as a racist attack.

Some neighbours reported seeing two people running away from the scene shortly before the fire broke out.

Other residents have spoken of their shock at the tragedy.

Baba Hussein, 29, who lives nearby, said he understood the family involved came from Pakistan.

'Nice family'

He said he believed the house was owned by a 60-year-old man, whose daughter had been visiting him with her five daughters.

Mr Hussein said: "This has come as an incredible shock.

"They were a really nice family. It's hard to believe how anything like this could happen."

Mr Hussein said he believed the five children were holidaying in Huddersfield with their mother, who was planning to settle more permanently.

Abida Latif who lives several streets away said she rushed to the scene immediately she heard the news.

Forensic teams

"The tragedy has just touched my heart. It's truly shocking," she said.

"Everyone round here feels part of one big family, I can't believe what has happened."

Inspector Diane Booth said officers would be at the scene throughout the day looking for evidence.

"The area remains sealed off and police and forensic teams will be at the scene throughout the day," she said.

"The fire is being treated as suspicious."


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