Page last updated at 13:56 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 14:56 UK

Fatal fire started in rubbish bin


A girl of five underwent specialist surgery following the fire

A fire at a house in which a 71-year-old woman died and six others were hurt started in a rubbish bin near the front door.

Greater Manchester Police are still investigating whether the blaze at Little Holme Walk in Great Lever, Bolton, was an arson attack.

Hameeda Begum was one of four pulled from the house but she died later.

Her husband Mumtaz Ahmed Chisty said he felt Mrs Begum had "sacrificed her life to save her children and me".

The couple had been married for 45 years.

"She was a dedicated and devoted grandmother, mother, wife and member of the community," Mr Chisty said.

"That night, I truly feel that she saved my life. She woke me up when the alarm went off.

"I feel that she sacrificed her life to save her children and me. I cannot forget this."

Hameeda Begum
Her husband said she had saved his life on the night of the fire

A woman aged 24, a five-year-old girl, and three firefighters are in hospital. Mr Chisty was treated for burns.

The fire, which happened on Monday night, is being treated as suspicious while an investigation is carried out.

Police have denied reports that there is any link between the fire and any previous criminal proceedings.

Ch Insp Sara Wallwork, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "This is a truly tragic case in which a well-loved and respected grandmother and member of the community has lost her life in the most horrific circumstances.

"On the night in question, police officers, firefighters and members of the public showed tremendous courage and team work.

"Our colleagues from the fire service were faced with a large scale fire when they arrived at the scene and a number of them were injured, one of them very seriously.

"Neighbours and other members of the community also showed incredible bravery in attempting to help the rescue effort."

The fire started in one of two bins at the front of the house, which had been put there by the family.

"The fire brigade's early investigations show no evidence of any accelerants being used, however we cannot rule out the possibility that someone may have deliberately set fire to the bin," Ch Insp Wallwork said.

Serious burns

The 24-year-old woman is in a stable condition at the Royal Bolton Hospital and the five-year-old girl is "poorly" in a specialist burns unit in Leicestershire.

Three firefighters who helped rescue the occupants also suffered burns.

One of the officers suffered up to 50% burns to his lower back and legs, and serious burns to his hands.

All are being treated in hospital.

Fatal fire at house 'suspicious'
24 Jun 08 |  Manchester
Woman dies after blaze rescue bid
24 Jun 08 |  Manchester

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