27/08/2008

Family Missing As Arson Probe Begins

West Mercia Police are searching for members of a Shropshire family who are this morning listed as 'missing' after a suspected arson attack on their home.

Christopher Foster, his wife Jillian and teenage daughter Kirsty have not been seen since the blaze yesterday.

Three horses have already been found dead in the grounds of the home and two dogs have also gone missing from kennels at the property, Osbaston House, near Maesbrook.

West Mercia Police (pictured) say they are waiting for the house - which is situated off the road between Maesbrook and Knockin - to be declared safe so officers can enter it.

It is not as yet known wither or not the missing family members were in the house at the time of the fire, which began shortly after 5am on Tuesday.

Police said that the house was "well alight" when fire crews arrived and are today treating the fire as "suspicious".

A police helicopter has been circling the charred remains of the mansion, about seven miles from the Welsh border, for any sign of the family.
News Image
Detective Superintendent Jon Groves, of West Mercia Police, said that a CCTV system found at the property would be examined over the coming days.

"The house, a garage and a stable block and another outbuilding were severely damaged," he said.

Mr Groves from the force's Major Incident Unit said that a search will be carried out of the property to establish if anybody was inside as soon as the building is deemed to be safe.

Forensic teams have also carried out investigations at the scene and house-to-house inquiries will take place.

Mr Groves has appealed for the family themselves or anyone who may have seen them over the Bank Holiday weekend to get in touch urgently.

Up to 80 officers and staff are involved in the investigation, which has been named Operation Feedback.

Neighbours fear that the family may have been in the property when the fire broke out.

Mr Foster is understood to be the Managing Director for a firm called Ulva Ltd and Mrs Foster is believed to be a secretary at her husband's firm.

(DS)

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