Page last updated at 17:47 GMT, Wednesday, 27 August 2008 18:47 UK

Family still missing after fire

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Aerial footage of arson house

A family of three are still missing after their Shropshire home was gutted in an arson attack.

Christopher Foster, 50, wife Jillian, 49, and daughter Kirstie, 15, have not been seen since Tuesday's fire at Osbaston House, near Maesbrook.

Three horses have been found dead in the stable block which was also gutted. Two dogs are missing from the kennels.

Police officers and fire crews have been unable to search the property as the building is still unsafe.

It is not yet known if the missing family were in the house at the time of the fire, which began shortly after 0500 BST.

Chris, Jill and Kirstie Foster
This picture of the Fosters was taken at a friend's house on Monday

Police have appealed for the family or anyone who may have seen them over the Bank Holiday weekend to get in touch urgently.

Kirstie is a year 10 pupil at Ellesmere College, an independent school in Ellesmere, Shropshire.

Det Supt Jon Groves, of West Mercia Police, said a CCTV system was found at the property and would be examined over the coming days.

He added: "The house, a garage and stable block and another outbuilding were severely damaged.

"Two horses in the stable and another in the outbuilding have been found dead. Two dogs which we believe were in a kennel block are missing."

Property search

Firefighters remained at the scene during Tuesday night to deal with hotspots, police said.

The house, which has electronic gates, is situated off the road between Maesbrook and Knockin and police said the house was well alight when fire crews arrived.

Mr Groves, from the force's major incident unit, said: "A search will be carried out of the property to establish if anybody was inside as soon as the building is deemed to be safe."

About 80 officers and police personnel are involved in the investigation, which has been named Operation Feedback.

Records from Companies House, which keeps official records of all companies in the UK, lists Mr Foster as the director of Ulva Limited - a thermal insulation manufacturing company in Telford.

'Not seen'

The firm went into administration in August last year and a court order was issued in November for the company to be wound up.

Mrs Foster is listed as company secretary.

Neighbours, who described the family as wealthy, have said they are private people.

Farmer David Hales, who has lived in the area for 46 years, said he had not seen the family in the village of Maesbrook and believed little was known of them.

"I have never seen them in the local pub or walking the dogs or the horses," he said.

Ann Morris, 38, who keeps horses at stables close to the Fosters' house, said she did not know them but had seen them out with their horse box and that there were always horses in the field.

John Kirkham, 81, said they had lived at the house for about four years.

"I don't know them at all. They keep themselves to themselves," he added.

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