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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK
Prayers said for family killed in fire
Police van at the scene of the fire
Police are continuing their inquiries at the scene
Police are continuing to question four men arrested over the deaths of seven people - including five young sisters - in a house fire in Huddersfield.

Two adults also died at the terraced house in Osborne Road, Birkby, on Sunday.

The deaths are being treated as murder.

Two adults remain in hospital with serious injuries and two more were released on Monday after treatment.

Floral tributes
Friends and neighbours have left floral tributes

The children's grandfather Abdul Aziz Chishti, who owns the property, was one of those released.

His wife is thought to be in hospital with head injuries and his son is being treated for serious burns at a special unit in Manchester.

Mr Chishti, a retired Imam of a local mosque said he could not believe what had happened to his family.

He told Channel Four News: "I'm not feeling well. I'm feeling very, very sad. I can't speak. I can't explain."

"I belong to a respectable family in the community. I am a Muslim priest. Everyone has great respect for me. I had good relations with the whole community.

"I could never expect this thing could happen."

Mohammed Akram, joint secretary of the local mosque, said friends had visited Mr Chishti in Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.


People are dumbfounded by what has happened

Councillor Mehboob Khan

He said: "It must have been horrendous for him standing and watching while his family were burnt.

"Nobody knows why this happened around here.

"What could anyone have gained by killing so many people?"

Mr Akram said prayers were being said across the town for the "well liked" family.

The five dead girls - aged 13, 10, six, two and six months - were on an extended holiday from Pakistan to visit their grandfather with their mother.

It is not known whether she died in the fire.

Councillor Mehboob Khan said: "The whole community is devastated.

"In this area particularly people are dumbfounded by what has happened."

Shocking scene

Warwick Firmin, head teacher at Fartown High School in Huddersfield, where the 13-year-old girl was a pupil, said: "The school is in a state of shock.

"She had been with us since September on an extended visit and had formed very strong relationships within her year group."

Detective Superintendent Bob Bridgestock said the "horrendous" fire was malicious and eyewitnesses saw three or four men running away.

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

Members of the emergency services first on the scene were shocked and distraught at what they found, some describing it as the worst house fire they had seen.

Four men are still being questioned at Huddersfield police station.

Two of the men are aged 24, one is 25, and another is 19-years-old.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Kevin Bocquet
"Investigations continue into how the fire started"

Click here to go to Leeds
See also:

13 May 02 | England
Pupils' tribute to dead girls
12 May 02 | England
Murder inquiry after fire deaths
12 May 02 | England
Five sisters die in house fire
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