A murder investigation has been opened after a baby and a toddler died in a flat fire in Nottingham.
The emergency services were called to reports of a fire in a first-floor flat in the Clifton area of the city at 3.17am today.
An initial joint fire and police investigation concluded the fire was started deliberately.
A woman and two children were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation and taken to Queen’s Medical Centre n the city.
The children, girls aged three and one, were pronounced dead at the hospital.
The woman remains in a critical condition.
Neighbouring homes were evacuated as fire crews tackled the blaze, which was eventually put out at 4am.
Detective Chief Inspector Greg McGill, who is leading the investigation, said: “These are tragic and very sad circumstances, and my thoughts are with the family of those involved.
“Following a joint investigation with Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service we have established that the fire was started deliberately.
“We are appealing for witnesses who were in the area at that time and saw something suspicious to please come forward and help us with the investigation.
“We have a team of detectives who are working hard to establish the circumstances and our inquiries remain in their early stages.”
David Mellen, the leader of Nottingham city council, said: “I am so saddened to hear this tragic news. The loss of two young children is completely heartbreaking.
“We’ll do all we can to support the family and community at this deeply upsetting time.”
Inspector Ben Lawrence, of Nottinghamshire Police, said local residents should expect to see officers in the area while a crime scene remains in place and inquiries continue.
“This tragic incident has resulted in two children sadly losing their lives and my thoughts, first and foremost, are with their loved ones at this time,” he said.
“We understand residents living nearby will be shocked by this news and have concerns about what happened.
“If anyone has any concerns I’d encourage them to speak to one of our officers.”
Anyone with information that could assist the investigation is asked to submit it to the Public Portal (mipp.police.uk).
If you would prefer to speak to police, please call 101 and ask for Nottinghamshire Police quoting incident 0110_20112022.
Alternatively, contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their anonymous online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.