Baby dies in ‘suspicious’ house fire
Police have been combing through the remains of a charred property on a sleepy street in Melbourne attempting to dissect the series of events that led to a horror house fire.
Arson chemists worked into the night and will continue this morning to probe if the fire was deliberately lit as police praise the "brave" efforts of neighbours who made heroic attempts to save a woman who was "gasping for air".
Reports of "terrifying" scenes of desperation have emerged as neighbours frantically tried to save a woman trapped inside a burning home "engulfed" in flames that police say is a "traumatic scene" and are treating as suspicious.
Three people are now confirmed to have died in the devastating house fire in Melbourne's west after the discovery of a baby's body late on Wednesday. Questions now focus on who and how the terrifying fire occurred.
One neighbour told Nine he could see the woman trapped inside and "was looking at all of us. I don't think she had the energy to scream, she was just trying to breathe".
Another heroic neighbour tried desperately to rescue the trapped in the burning home in but was forced back by the ferocity of the flames.
Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Kennedy said one man grabbed a ladder to try to get upstairs but couldn't because of the intensity of the flames.
"Sadly, they did their best but the fire took hold," he said.
Emergency services were called just after 3.30am on Wednesday to reports a fire was spreading to nearby homes.
Police made the grim discovery of the child's body after they found the remains of two adults in a blaze in Point Cook that destroyed the townhouse and damaged two others. The ages and identities of the dead are as yet unknown. The adults, who were upstairs, were discovered first.
The occupants were still not forensically identified yesterday afternoon but it is believed the adult pair were a couple.
When firefighters arrived the blaze was so intense it was "spreading to the units either side" and aerial and rescue units were brought in to help.
"FRV's response was quickly escalated as firefighters wearing breathing apparatus commenced attacking the fire," Fire Rescue Victoria said in a statement.
Witnesses have described harrowing scenes as they tried desperately to rescue those trapped inside, attempting to smash as window as they could see one woman "frantically gasping for air".
"She was looking at all of us and we just threw an axe through the window and broke it hoping she would climb out and one of us would catch her, but as soon as we broke the window, she went quiet." Jemil, who lives next door with his wife and five-month-old baby, told media at the scene.
UPDATE: Devastating news out of Point Cook where a 3rd body has been found in the townhouse fire... and tragically, it’s a baby. Police are still working to identify the two adults. @10NewsFirstMelb pic.twitter.com/XZ7TFGXNx7— Candice Wyatt (@CandiceWyatt10) December 2, 2020
Jemil explained he woke when his own fire alarm went off and was confronted with a "terrifying" scene when he saw his next door neighbour's house.
"You could just see through his window massive flames coming out through the house," he said.
"We tried to go out the front door but we saw our front yard was just in flames so we had to come out through the rear. It was bloody horrifying.
"We did try to do everything we could to get her out, me and a few of the other neighbours.
"But we smashed the garage door in, we opened the garage door leading into the house it was just engulfed in flames."
Police revealed on Thursday afternoon that they are still yet to establish the exact cause of the fire, however they are treating it as "suspicious".
Overnight Victoria Police told news.com.au the trio were still yet to be identified and could not release further details until next of kin were adequately informed.
Tragic update from Point Cook: In addition to the man and woman found dead inside after this morning’s townhouse fire, police have now confirmed the body of an infant has also been discovered. Detectives say the blaze was so intense they believe it may have been deliberately lit. pic.twitter.com/es3cQUoysL— Paul Dowsley (@paul_dowsley) December 2, 2020
"Arson chemists" spent the day forensically examining the property and "the investigation remains ongoing".
Forensics were delayed in entering the house after a "long and involved" process to secure the premise but Sergeant Kennedy told reporters authorities will "endeavour to occur how this fire occurred and why this fire occurred".
It is believed the fire began in the middle of the house and is regarded as suspicious due to the intensity of the inferno as emergency services arrived.
"It was fully engulfed, the townhouse was raging particularly at the front and upstairs," he said.
"With accidental fires that doesn't normally occur so we are treating it as suspicious at this early stage."
Originally published as Baby dies in 'suspicious' house fire