Police have named the teenager who was found dead following a suspicious house fire in the Christchurch suburb of Somerfield yesterday.

She was Jade Louise Bayliss, aged 13 years, of Somerfield.

Detective Inspector Virginia Le Bas said Jade was a student at Cashmere High School, but had been at home sick on Thursday.

She lived with her mother at the Barrington Street address where her body was found.

Advertisement

"It is an absolute tragedy that a 13-year old girl should lose her life in such awful circumstances.

"Jade's family have been through an incredible trauma in the past 24 hours, and they have asked for privacy at this time."

Earlier today, police confirmed they had launched a homicide investigation into the death as a "distraught'' family searches for answers.

The Fire Service received "multiple calls''about the fire at about 1.30pm.

The house is next to the front gate of Cashmere High School, a co-educational state secondary school.

Detective Inspector Virginia Le Bas said a post mortem examination today indicated the teenager died in "unnatural circumstances''.

"There is still more work to be done to confirm the cause of death. The fire at the house may or may not be connected to the death.''

Police believe the fire was deliberately lit, and there was no one else at the property when the body was found.

"It's incredibly difficult because the girl was so young. I don't think they can believe that this is even true. They're extremely distraught and clearly want some answers to what happened.

"It's a big struggle for them.''

She said the family was working with the police to find out what led to the death, and was receiving help from Victim Support.

Two men, aged 34 and 40, have been arrested on charges which may or may not be directly related to the death, Ms Le Bas said.

The pair have been remanded in custody and will appear in court at Rangiora on Tuesday.

Ms Le Bas said police were still looking for other people in relation to the death and were "keeping an open mind''.

Police have been following strong lines of enquiry and had been speaking to a number of people, including neighbours.

She said a number of staff had been carrying out a scene examination at the property today, and will continue over the weekend.

"We're making good progress because we're starting to be able to put a picture together of the movements of various people in and around the area. We're getting answers to things we're interested in knowing about.''

She said police were looking to talk to anyone who might have information about the death, and she asked people to phone the Christchurch Central station on 03 363 7400.