Neighbours described hearing an explosion before the blaze at the semi in Bolton.
Emergency services were called at 2am and firefighters broke into the smoke-filled house. They brought out a woman who died in hospital from burns. Two bodies were then found inside following a search of the address.
The middle-aged couple living at the house were named locally as Mani and Mona Hassan. It is thought they were Iranian and that a relative was with them.
A couple who live next door, who did not wish to be named, said they were woken by an explosion, which apparently came from the kitchen of the property.
Another close neighbour, Maria Taylor, 48, said she was woken by the sound of fire engines and then heard smashing glass as firefighters broke in. She said: “There were flames and then a lot of smoke coming from the kitchen area. It was going up the stairwell, up to the landing. A body was brought out. They were doing CPR on the person in the garden at the front.”
She believed the couple had two children away at university.