A spokesperson for the Dortmund Police Department, Peter Schulz, said 4-year-old Mustafa Tüfekçi and 12-year-old Dilan Tüfekçi were found dead by rescue teams and 10-year-old Mehmet Tüfekçi was taken to hospital with severe burns but later died from his injuries.
Schulz said there are indications the fire may have been the result of arson. He added that police are investigating and will make an official announcement soon.
Turkish media outlets have reported that Tüfekçi’s Bulgarian girlfriend was arrested by the German police following suspicions she may have started the fire. Tüfekçi lived in an upper story of the apartment, where another fire had broken out on Feb. 29. Police are investigating whether there is any connection between the two incidents.
Another spokesperson for the Dortmund Police Department, Wolfgang Wieland, said police were notified that a fire had broken out at around 5 a.m. on Friday. One of the neighbors, Ersin Akbulut, told Today’s Zaman that eyewitnesses told him the fire started 15 minutes after Tüfekçi and his girlfriend left the apartment. Akbulut added that Tüfekçi started living with his Bulgarian girlfriend after his wife died.
“They were always leaving the kids alone and going out for a long time. Some neighbors called Jugendamt [Germany’s child welfare agency] to let them know about the children’s situation, but they did not pay attention. If they had, these children probably wouldn’t have died,” Akbulut said.