LONDON – British police on Tuesday arrested the parents of six children who died in a fire at their home on suspicion of murder.
Derbyshire police said a 55-year-old man and a 31-year-old woman were arrested together in Derby city center in connection with the fire earlier this month, which the force said broke out after fuel was poured through the front door mail slot of the family's home.
Police did not name the suspects, but British media have identified them as Mick Philpott, 55, and his wife Mairead, 31.
The children who died in the suspicious May 11 fire in the central England city of Derby ranged from the ages of 5 to 13. Five died immediately and one died at the hospital.
Philpott has 17 children and had previously featured on British television in programs about his extraordinarily large family. In 2007, he hosted then-lawmaker Anne Widdicombe to live at his home for a week as she filmed a critical documentary about the country's welfare system.
Following the blaze, police said Philpott had made valiant efforts to rescue his children, who were sleeping in their beds in upstairs rooms when the fire began to rage in the early hours of the morning.
In announcing Tuesday's arrests, Assistant Chief Constable Steve Cotterill said he suspected people with crucial information about the tragedy have yet to come forward.
"It is absolutely vital that if you know anything you think could help us, come forward now. Do not wait any longer," he said. "It is important that we find justice for these six young children."
Jade, 10; John, 9; Jack, 7; Jessie, 6; and Jayden, 5, died at the scene from smoke inhalation. Their brother Duwayne, 13, died in the hospital from his injuries.
The force said it was increasing its presence on the road where the fire took place and that forensic examinations were continuing at the house where the blaze occurred.