TRIBUTES have been paid to the husband and wife who died in a fatal house fire in Blackburn.

Ayesha Mohammed, 39, died on Wednesday morning at Royal Blackburn Hospital after seven days spent in a critical condition.

Her husband, Abdullah Mohammed, 41, was killed in a ferocious blaze at the family's London Road home in the early hours of Wednesday, October 21.

The couple's three children, Ashraf, 18, Siddiqah, 14, and nine-year-old Muhammad, have now lost both parents in the devastating arson attack.

Muhammad has now been discharged from the University Hospital, Manchester, where Siddiqah remains in a critical but stable condition.

Ashraf was away at university at the time.

Salim Mulla, senior vice chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, described Ayesha's death as a 'real tragedy'.

He said: "This is a very, very sad moment for the three children, the family and the community.

"They will face a very difficult life. The children will get tremendous support, but it's not the same. Losing a father and mother is very difficult.

"We only buried Mr Mohammed on Tuesday, now the mother has passed away. It's a really sad occasion for the Muslim community."

Coun Mulla added: "We are glad the police are treating this as their most important investigation.

"They are making encouraging progress."

Shear Brow councillor and local newsagent Suleman Khonat said: "One minute the children have both parents and the next thing both parents are not there.

"It's a really big tragedy for the community as well.

"Ayesha was very much a family lady. She looked after the children, and was part of a respected family who led a lot of our young children in good practice through the Mosque."

Earlier, local residents spoke of their shock at the death of Mr Mohammed, a well-known member of the community.

Assad Shah, 19, of London Road, said: “It is a shock and very surprising that the police are now treating this incident as murder. I just thought it was an accident.”

Vasim Mogra, 18, of Shear Brow, who was woken by his mother who had seen firefighters tackling the blaze, said: “It is a shock. Why him? He was my teacher and gave me confidence.”

Sajid Malluk, 27, of London Road, said: “It is just shocking. He was very well known in the community and well known in the mosque. I just can’t see why anyone would do this.”

Shaan Perwez, 22, of London Road, said: “This is terrible. You hear about things like this on the news but you don’t expect anything like this in the area. He was a very good person.”

Moneeb Chaudry, 22, of London Road, said: “When I found out he had died in the fire it was terrible but now that it’s a murder investigation it’s a shock. You never think that anything like this could happen.”

Faruk Patel, 43, London Road, who used to play football with Mr Mohammed, said: “I’m sure if it is being treated as a murder it must be right. Whoever has done this must be caught and punished in prison and after death.”

Blackburn MP Jack Straw said: “This is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved."

More than a thousand mourners paid their respects at the funeral of Abdullah Mohammed at Pleasington Cemetery on Tuesday.

Officers were present to keep the steady line of traffic flowing, as members of the Muslim community from across Lancashire arrived to offer their prayers.

People began turning up more than an hour before the service, which was one of the biggest ever held at the cemetery.

Crowds of people swarmed to the prayer hall, heads bowed in solemn silence.

The sound of prayer rolled out across the Pleasington hillside, with the majority of people stood outside in weak sunlight.

Then tearful mourners formed two lines to pass the shrouded coffin overhead to its final resting place as the 30-minute service drew to a close.

Senior policeman, including Detective Superintendent Neil Hunter who is leading the murder inquiry, were also present.

Click here to view pictures from the scene in London Road.