Tributes to Heaton triple fire death couple
DEVASTATED friends of a couple killed in a house blaze have paid tribute to them as detectives reveal that the fire could have been a murder-suicide.
Hassan and Mahnaz Rafie and their elderly mother-in-law, Dolleh Joseph, aged 74, were killed by the blaze in Albert Road West, Heaton, in the early hours of Monday.
Their home had been up for sale for £325,000 before the incident and it is understood the family may have been also selling another house, in Carslake Avenue, Bolton.
Both houses were being sold through the estate agent Miller Metcalfe, who have since removed them from internet housing sites.
Police are awaiting results of post-mortem examinations and were expected to recover the bodies of Mr and Mrs Rafie from the Albert Road West house at some point yesterday.
It may be days before either is formally identified because of the horrific injuries they have sustained — and police could be forced to rely on dental records.
The couple were discovered in the kitchen and Mrs Rafie’s mother was rescued from one of the bedrooms upstairs before being taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
Mahnaz, known locally as Mona, has been described as a “lovely woman” by a former neighbour who knew the couple when they lived in Carslake Avenue.
It is understood they lived there with their two sons, Ommid and Arash, for about 10 years. They moved from the street several years ago.
Ommid is thought be a doctor and lives in Preston, while it is understood his younger brother, Arash, is studying medicine at university.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she was devastated.
She added: “It nearly killed me when I heard the news. You just can’t imagine how it could have happened.
“The two boys used to be ever so respectful and polite so I’m relieved that they’re okay.
“She was a lovely lass and you could not have asked for a nicer neighbour.
“I heard from her only a month or so ago and she mentioned going out shopping.”
Another ex-neighbour, who also wished to remain anonymous, added: “We didn’t know them well. You just can’t fathom how something like this could happen.”
A Heaton councillor, Bob Allen, said: “My heart goes out to the family and friends of people involved in this tragedy.”
A police spokesman said: “We cannot rule out that the fire was started to kill the people in the house. That is one line of inquiry we are pursuing .”
Mrs Rafie used to work at one of the Next branches in Bolton and a spokesman for the firm said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends at this very sad time.
“Due to the sensitive nature of this matter we wish to respect their privacy.”
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Mr Rafie is thought to have owned the Alfa computer shop in Chorley Old Road, which was robbed in 2001.
Two bodies, understood to be those of Mr and Mrs Rafie, were discovered in the kitchen of the house.
The house is still cordoned off by police.
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