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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 13:26 GMT
Mother and daughters die in fire
Police woman near fire scene
The girls' father was resuscitated and taken to hospital
A mother and her four daughters, aged from three to 16, have died in what is thought to be a suspicious house fire in Lancashire.

The bodies of Caneze Riaz, 39, and her daughters Sayrah, 16, Sophia, 15, Alicia, 10, and three-year-old Hannah were found in the early hours.

Firefighters broke into a bay window of the end terrace house in Tremellen Street, Accrington.

The girls' father, Mohammed Riaz, is in a critical condition in hospital.

He had to be resuscitated by a firefighter at the scene and is being treated in Wythenshawe Hospital burns unit.

The couple are said to also have a fifth child, 17-year-old Adam, who has been receiving hospital treatment for leukaemia.

A fire service spokesman earlier said police were treating the blaze as suspicious.

Scene of the fire in Tremellen Street
The house has been sealed off as police investigate

The house has been sealed off and a police investigation is under way.

A spokeswoman for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said the bodies were found upstairs and there was very serious damage to the house.

The fire service spokeswoman added: "We received a 999 call from a mobile alerting us to the fire at 1.52am this morning, and we were on the scene within three minutes.

"The four children and mother were rescued from the burning house but were dead on rescue."

'Local tragedy'

Michael Frankland, East Lancashire community protection manager for the fire service, said the blaze was one of the worst he had seen in his 26 years' experience.

"We believe the police are treating it as suspicious," he said. "We are gathering a specialist forensic team.

"It is tragic for firefighters to be rescuing young children. It will be a tragedy for the local community."

She was committed, passionate and effervescent
Javed Khan, colleague of Caneze Riaz
Mrs Riaz worked as a child project co-ordinator at a local community centre.

One of her colleagues, Javed Khan, paid tribute to her and said she played an integral part in the community.

Mr Khan said: "As a worker she was absolutely fantastic. She was committed, passionate and effervescent. She would do anything for the community."

He added: "Only a couple of days ago there was an event at the town hall, an Eid and Diwali celebration and she helped put that together.

"In a day and age where role models are few, especially in Accrington, a deprived community, she's one of the few people that was out there to make a difference."

Friend and neighbour Saeeda Farook said the girls were "angels" and described their mother as "beautiful and lovely".

"She was looking after them so well. I just can't believe what's happened," she said.

News briefing with fire service

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