Police probe barn fire tragedy

The scene of a fatal fire at Hessle farm, Wragby, near Wakefield....2nd October 2011....Picture By Simon Hulme..
The scene of a fatal fire at Hessle farm, Wragby, near Wakefield....2nd October 2011....Picture By Simon Hulme..

A MAN arrested on suspicion of murdering his two-year-old stepdaughter after a blaze ravaged a farm near Ackworth has been released on bail.

The 37-year-old stepdad, from Wakefield, was quizzed by detectives after tot Isobel June Dobson, from South Elmsall, died in a van which caught fire at Hessle Farm in Wragby on Friday night.

The man, who has not been named, was also being questioned on suspicion of the attempted murder of his one-year-old daughter, who was rescued as flames battered the vehicle.

Yesterday a West Yorkshire Police spokewoman confirmed the man had been released on bail pending further inquiries.

Firefighters were called to reports of a barn blaze at the Hessle Common Lane farm at around 5.30pm on Friday.

Police initially reported a child was missing at the scene – but later confirmed a body had been found.

On Saturday, officers revealed how Isobel’s 22-year-old mother and stepdad battled in vain to beat down flames in the van to rescue both children, but could only reach the younger of the two.

The man and baby were treated at Wakefield’s Pinderfields Hospital for burns but were discharged on Saturday.

Police said the South Elmsall family had been at the farm tending to a horse before the fire broke out.

A police spokesman said: “Isobel and her one-year-old half-sister were in the van when the fire broke out and, despite efforts by her stepfather and mother, they were only able to rescue the one-year-old girl before being beaten back by the flames and injured.”

Officers later confirmed a man had been arrested in connection with the fire and it was being treated as suspicious.

A spokesman said: “Inquiries into the cause of the fire, which is now being treated as suspicious, are ongoing and a joint investigation is being carried out by West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.”

Dozens of floral tributes, balloons and teddy bears have been left at a horse box near the scene of the tragedy.

One reads: “Sleep tight my darling, you will be missed. Love Grandma Christine.”

Teammates of Isobel’s dad Andrew, who lives in Knottingley and who plays for Selby Warriors’ second team, remembered the tot during a minute’s silence at their rugby league game on Saturday.

Craig Hazell, club spokesman, said: “The club and all his friends wish to pass on their heartfelt condolences at this very sad time.”

Ten fire engines were called to the scene to tackle the flames and water was pumped up to the farm from neighbouring villages.

Firefighters from both Hemsworth and South Elmsall stations were involved, as well as crews from Wakefield, Pontefract and elsewhere. Crews removed hay from the site to stop the blaze spreading and around 115 homes in Ackworth and Featherstone had their electricity supplies turned off at the request of the service.

Assistant chief fire officer Martyn Redfearn, of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Our condolences go out to the family and friends of the child.

“The firefighters worked very hard and were very moved dealing with this scene, as we always are dealing with tragedies like this.”

Witnesses or anyone with information should contact HMET on 0845 6060606 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555111.