Father found injured in burnt-out car after children die in house fire
The father of two children who died after a suspected arson attack on their home was found badly injured in a burnt-out car just hours later, police said.
The man, in his 40s, was found with critical injuries in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, after the boy, eight, and a six-year-old girl, were pulled from the burning house by neighbours who tried to give first aid.
The children were rushed to hospital from their home in Hamstead, Birmingham, shortly after 3.40am, on Friday, before being pronounced dead. Their father is critical in hospital after being discovered in a Vauxhall Insignia 35 miles away at around 7.15am.
West Midlands Police said they were not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.
Neighbours spoke of their sadness, saying the brother and sister had often been seen playing happily in and around the home in Holland Road.
Kim Oversby, whose daughter Leanne lives next to the house, said she was "torn up".
She said Leanne used to watch the children playing on their trampoline and was close enough to hear them laughing.
Zainab Harun, who lives on Holland Road, said she would see the children riding their bikes and coming home from school.
She said: "I used to talk to them whenever they walked past. It's a sad, terrible thing that has happened here.
"I have two children and I keep playing it over and over again in my head."
Detectives are still trying to establish the cause of the fire and a post-mortem examination is due to take place on the children on Saturday.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Slevin, of West Midlands Police, speaking from where the children died, said: "We believe these two incidents are connected and we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the fire here."
Around 13 firefighters were "confronted with a traumatic scene" when they arrived with the pair "lifeless out on the front lawn" service commander Steve Taylor said,
A woman at the scene, who did not want to be identified, said she was a care worker colleague of the children's mother, aged 36.
She told the Press Association: "It's just so wicked what's happened - we're just trying to deal with it.
"She was supposed to come to work this morning so we tried calling her but there was no answer.
"I'm sorry ... I can't go on."
Lashman Sehmar, 66, whose son Raghbir owns the house next door, said he had spoken to his son's female tenant on Friday morning.
He told PA: "She told me that the neighbour over the road from her rushed into the house and picked up one of the children and brought it onto the lawn."
West Midlands Ambulance Service said its units rushed to the scene and found "two children, a boy and a girl, who were in cardiac arrest".
A spokesman added: "Bystanders had already started CPR, which crews took over before also administering advanced life support.
"Treatment continued en route to hospital, with the boy being taken to Sandwell Hospital and the girl to Birmingham Children's Hospital.
"Unfortunately, shortly after their arrival at the hospitals, it became clear that nothing could be done to save either child and they were confirmed deceased."