Accidental blaze claims young life
A TEENAGE girl was incinerated during an horrific house fire while staying at a friend’s home in South Toowoomba.
It is believed the 15-year-old girl may have become disorientated when the blaze started in a rear bedroom of the West Street rental home at 6.35am on Saturday.
The flames quickly swept through the old wooden home, located between Stephen and South streets, as the seven family members escaped.
The screams of 33-year-old woman, Heidi, her partner, 35, and five children woke their neighbours.
The man and a 16-year-old child suffered critical airway burns as they desperately tried to smash an external window to reach the trapped teenager.
The home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at 6.42am.
Fire crews entered the burning home and located the girl’s body in a rear bedroom about 15 minutes later.
The girl, whose first name is Nikki, suffered burns to 100 per cent of her body.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, yesterday said he had been suffering flashbacks since the tragedy.
“Heidi was screaming, ‘Nikki, Nikki, Nikki’. I just did what I could — stood there and cried with her,” he said.
“I can’t get it out of my head.”
The neighbour said the family had lived in the rental property for about three years.
It is believed a sixth child may not have been home at the time of the fire.
Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Station Officer Paul Cannington said the fire was accidental.
Mr Cannington praised his crews for braving the fire to try and rescue the girl.
“But obviously it was too late,” he said.
“In 98% of cases, the person will die from smoke inhalation before burns become an issue.”
The body was left in the bedroom until the fire investigation was completed on Saturday afternoon.
A Toowoomba Hospital spokesman yesterday said the conditions of the 35-year-old man and 16-year-old boy had improved from critical to stable.
It is not yet known what the source of the fire was.
The last house fire victim in the Toowoomba district was nurse Jan Donnell, 53.
The nurse died during a fire in her Oakey home on Christmas Day.
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