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Essex fire murder probe

A house fire that killed a mother and her five children in Harlow, Essex, last month is now being treated as a murder investigation, Essex Police have said.

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Death blaze could have been accident

Tests at the scene of a house fire which killed a woman and four of her children in Essex suggest that the blaze may have started accidentally. Police investigating the blaze on Monday say they are not ruling any possibility out and are continuing to investigate whether it was an arson attack.

However, early results suggest the fire started in the lounge at the rear of the house and no accelerant, such as petrol, was used. Doctor Sabah Usmani, her sons Sohaib, 11, and Rayyan, 6, and 12-year-old daughter Hira died in their terrace house in Barn Mead, Harlow, in the early hours of Monday.

A third son, Muneeb, nine, and second daughter Maheen, three, were rescued by fire crews and taken to hospital in a critical condition but Muneeb later died. Ms Usmani's husband, Abdul Shakoor, also a doctor, suffered minor injuries as he fought to rescue his family from the blaze.

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