12 March, 2024

Heroes praised after fire

Two retirement village residents desperately tried to free a man trapped inside his burning unit, before emergency services could arrive late Monday evening (March 11).

Heroes praised after fire - feature photo

Police praised the actions of the residents, who had tried to break windows and force open a door after being confronted with an unimpenetrable fire just after 9pm. Once extinguished, police did uncover a body.

While no identification has been made, it is believed the 83-year-old resident perished in the blaze, which broke out at the Burpengary Pines retirement village.

Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) responded to emergency calls, with the fire believed to have started in the back of the home.

Detective Inspector David Harbison said that by the time emergency services arrived at the retirement village, the unit was already “well engulfed in fire”.

The fire also caused severe damage to its neighbouring unit.

Det Insp Harbison said neighbours tried desperately to help free the man.

“We have received reports of some absolute brave persons who tried to assist an elderly male to get out of that unit,” he said.

“But unfortunately due to the intensity of the fi re, they weren’t able to help.

“It’s a tragedy and it’s a small little community, so it’s a sense of grief in this small, little area here.”

Forensic investigators from QPS and QFES were continuing their investigation, but were hampered by the structural damage to the property.

QPS said it was not treating the fire as suspicious, but the cause was still undetermined.

Surrounding units were also scorched and powerlines burned, with many residents losing power.

It is unlikely power would be returned for “the next few days”.

Chaplains from the Community Crisis Chaplaincy will be on site for the coming days to offer support to residents.

Chaplain Lance Mergard said the stress was low at the moment, but would probably increase when the realisation of the tragedy sinks in.

“The next five days are gonna be the most important, when people learn to manage their emotions,” he said.

“Residents have been in close contact with their relatives and families and working together to find resilience, which is an indication of the close-knit village.”


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