kittens are being blamed for a blaze which wrecked two homes.
An investigation into the fire at the semi-detached properties in Newton Road, Lowton, is on-going, but early indications are that no-one gained access to the property before the fire began and the fire started in the kitchen of Andrew and Reina Ainscough’s property.
The couple and their young twins were in Bristol at the time, meaning the house was unoccupied except for their kittens Jesse and Dora.
A relative had been feeding the pair while the family was away and the pets were sleeping in the kitchen.
Unfortunately they were killed as a result of the fire, which caused hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage to the Ainscough family home and also the house next door, owned by Brendan Page.
Fire investigators confirmed they were looking at the possibility one of the kittens had jumped on to the cooker and activated the hob.
Mr Ainscough, 28, who runs a staffing agency with his wife, said: “It’s just such a freak incident. They can’t be sure what caused it yet but it is possible it could have been the cats.”
The Ainscoughs are currently staying with relatives while the damage is assessed by insurers. Their twin son and daughter, Kian and Darcy, had been due to start nursery this week but their uniforms and clothes were destroyed in the fire.
Mrs Ainscough, 27, added: “It was so lucky that no one was in the house at the time. It could have happened at any time and I’m glad we weren’t in.”
The fire quickly spread to Mr Page’s property. He had been in the process of moving out and had in fact moved into a new home in advance of putting the Newton Road house up for rent.
Firefighters had to stay at the scene for around 12 hours to ensure it was safe.
Watch manager Steve Patterson, from Leigh fire station, said: “Damage to both houses is extensive. I would think the whole building will have to be torn down.”