A man killed in a house fire that left a woman and her three children critically injured may have set himself alight, police said on Tuesday, as the Independent Police Complaints Commission was brought in to investigate.
David Potts, 39, was found with serious burns during a blaze at Barlow Road, Broadheath, Altrincham, in the early hours of Monday morning. He died later in hospital. Police said they were investigating the possibility that he set fire to himself.
The matter was voluntarily referred to the IPCC, as officers had previously had some contact with the family.
Tracy Jones, 40, and her two sons, Zak, four, and Shaun, 15, and her 18-year-old daughter, Cailin, remain in a critical condition in hospital.
Jones and her older children managed to escape the house before the arrival of firefighters, who broke down the front door and rescued Zak from an upstairs bedroom. They found Potts badly burned and unconscious in the downstairs lounge. He was taken to hospital, where he died.
Officers from Greater Manchester police’s professional standards unit have launched an internal investigation.
The IPCC said: “We have been advised by Greater Manchester police that we will be receiving a referral from them in connection to this incident. Once we receive the referral we will assess the evidence to determine our level of involvement.”
Chief Superintendent Mark Roberts, divisional commander for Trafford, said: “A dedicated team of detectives is working closely with the fire service to establish how this fire started. There is speculation in the media that David [went] to the house and started the fire. While this is clearly a line of inquiry we are investigating, until we have established the exact circumstances surrounding the fire, it would not be appropriate for us to speculate further. However, at this time, we are not looking for anyone further in relation to this incident.
“This is an extremely serious and tragic case, which has left one person dead and four others critically injured. Our thoughts are with the families of all of those involved.
“We are asking for people in the local community to come forward and speak to police if they have any information that may help us with our investigation.”
Denise Moulson, a neighbour, told the Manchester Evening News there had been shouting before the blaze. “My neighbour said there was a lot of arguing, screaming and then the kitchen window blew out. She said she heard Tracy say: ‘Stop it Dave, just go now’. Other neighbours heard them screaming, ‘Help, I am on fire!’
“It is so sad. They are a lovely family, very quiet, always said hello. We saw Tracy, Sean and Cailin on the grass at the front of the house, they were in shock and a lot of pain.”
Jones, who regularly attended King’s Way church, in Sale, had moved back to the UK from South Africa.