Father 'smashed through window' in bid to rescue family from blaze
A father used his bare hands to smash through a window in a bid to rescue his three children and their mother from a house fire that claimed their lives, a senior firefighter has said.
Fire crews found the man, named locally as Zubair, trying to get into the small terraced house in Rosamond Street, in Bolton, at around 9am on Saturday.
He had managed to escape the blaze through a first floor window but his two boys and a girl, all under the age of 13, and the woman were still inside, Tony Hunter said.
Mr Hunter, assistant county officer with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), said the man was "distraught".
"We found a man who had jumped from the first floor window, straight through the window on to concrete," he told the Press Association.
"He got up and then was smashing his hands through the glass of the ground floor window.
"He was breaking the windows with his hands.
"He was covered in cuts.
"He was absolutely distraught, screaming (that) his wife and children were in there."
Mr Hunter said it took four firefighters and specialist equipment to break the front door down. When crews got inside they found devastation.
He said: "It was a very intense fire - the plaster had come off the walls.
"That was on the ground floor so you can imagine what it was like on the first floor.
"They made their way up in no visibility whatsoever, fighting the fire as they were going up the stairs and located the three children and mother and then had to carry them down.
"I spoke to crews when I got there - they were very emotional about it."
Paramedics and fire crews gave the victims CPR but one of the children was pronounced dead at the scene and the woman and two other children died later in hospital.
The man, who an eyewitness describes as "hammering" on the door of the terraced house, is being treated at a hospital and is in a stable condition.
Mr Hunter said it would be "some time" before the cause of the blaze was known, although Greater Manchester Police said it was not thought to be suspicious.
An eyewitness said she was alerted to a "commotion" at around 9am on Saturday and saw a man banging on a door of one of the terraced houses.
Crime scene investigators were at the scene, in the Daubhill area of the town, the woman said.
The resident, who asked not to be named, said: "It's terrible, absolutely terrible. I saw them bringing people out. They were doing chest compressions.
"I saw them bring two out and then they put a green sheet up.
"It was 9am this morning when I heard all this commotion. There was just a load of hammering, banging on a door.
"I went to the window and saw smoke billowing.
"When I saw him after he had his hands bandaged up and his head."
Another eyewitness, Aymen Mohamed, said he had been visiting his grandmother when the fire broke out.
The 24-year-old said "Early this morning about 9am there was smoke emerging from the house and noises of shouting.
"I didn't see the man but it was said he jumped from the back window which faced the backstreet, so it was hard to see.
"I knew of the family, but not as friendly.
"I saw the grandmother of the kids crying once it was known they were dead."
Detective Chief Inspector Chris Bridge, from GMP's Bolton borough, appealed for witnesses.
He said: "These are utterly heart-breaking circumstances and our thoughts go out to anyone affected by this tragic incident.
"This appears to be a family home and we have been working to inform loved ones of this awful loss."
A GMFRS tweet said: "Our deepest condolences go to the family and the community. We will be in the local area in the coming days reassuring residents."
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: "Dreadful news coming out of Bolton today. My thoughts are with the family, their friends & the whole community."