Arson investigation after Leeds couple’s deaths UPDATED

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The body of a woman was found in the burned out remains of a house in Leeds following a fire which claimed the life of her husband.

The ferocious blaze at the property on Farfield Court, in Garforth, was believed to have been started by Martin Ashworth.

Susan Ashworth. PIC: Ross Parry

Susan Ashworth. PIC: Ross Parry

His wife Susan Ashworth’s body was found in the family home after fire crews were called on Tuesday night.

Investigations are being carried out to determine whether she was already dead before the fire started.

Mr Ashworth was taken to hospital with serious burns and later died of his injuries.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Morgan from West Yorkshire Police said: “We are treating this incident as suspicious, however, we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this enquiry.”

One neighbour in the quiet cul-de-sac is alleged to have seen a man running from the building doused in flames.

The Yorkshire Evening Post understands that the couple, who were both in their 40s, were undergoing marital difficulties.

Mrs Ashworth was a popular community figure in the town and was heavily involved with the volunteer-led Garforth in Bloom project.

It is unclear how she had died because of the extent of her injuries.

A post mortem examination was due to be carried out to establish the cause of her death.

The couple, who were both named locally, are believed to have two sons – one is understood to be at university and the other is thought to be aged around 15.

One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “There was a terrific explosion and it blew the front window out.

“I just ducked because I thought there might be shrapnel coming out.

“I have never seen flames or anything like this before.

“It was just absolutely horrifying and I couldn’t believe it.”

Another resident, who lives nearby, said that her brother went to offer assistance as soon as he realised what had happened.

She said: “We just heard a big bang and looked out the window and the house was just in flames.

“Initially it looked like the fire was downstairs but by the time the fire brigade arrived it had got through the whole house.

“It was just billowing out of every window and even came out through the roof.”

She added: “It is just absolutely tragic.”

A police cordon yesterday remained in place at the top of the street.

There was a further cordon at the back of the charred property as officers continued to investigate the cause of the blaze.

Neighbours were evacuated and told to keep away from their homes for 24 hours.

Incident Commander Nigel Kirk said: “Sadly two people have lost their lives as a result of this fire.

“Our condolences go out to their family and friends at this difficult time.”

Date: 13th February 2018.
Pictures: James Hardisty.

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