Man and woman arrested over Stafford house fire that killed four children

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ben Chapman

A man and a woman have been arrested following a Stafford house fire that killed four children.

A 24-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man are being held on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence. The arrests follow an update from investigators into the probable cause of the fire.

The arrests were made at around 1.30pm and the pair remain in custody.

Four children aged between three and eight died following the house fire in Sycamore Lane in the early hours of Tuesday.

The house in Staffordshire on Wednesday morning. Credit: PA

The children who died have not been formally identified but have been named locally as Riley Holt, aged eight, Keegan Unitt, six, four-year-old Tilly Rose Unitt, and Olly Unitt, three.

A fifth child, named locally as two-year-old Jack, escaped from a first-floor window along with his mother Natalie Unitt and her partner Chris Moulton.

Mr Moulton is understood to have received treatment for burns and Ms Unitt for smoke inhalation - injuries which were believed to be non-life-threatening.

Part of the roof collapsed, with the windows smashed and the inside appearing to have been blackened by smoke.

A fundraising page set up for the family of the four children has since reached over £28,500 - with more than 1,800 people donating money.

Tributes left outside on Sycamore Lane in Stafford. Credit: PA

A spokeswoman for South Staffordshire Coroner's Court said the post-mortem examinations of the four children have not yet been completed but their file had been passed to the coroner.

Emotional tributes have been paid to the youngsters, with teachers describing them as "bright, happy, loving and lively".

In a statement made shortly after the arrests, police said: "This incident has had a huge impact on the community and we understand there will be confusion and a demand for information.

"However, we would urge people not to speculate as to what may have happened and appeal for patience as the investigation continues.

"We will provide further updates as soon as we are able to."