Saturday September 21 2013
– A man and a woman who perished in a house fire in Deer Park yesterday morning helped two others escape.
Firefighters discovered the bodies of Steve White, 44, and a woman police believe to be his partner in a bedroom of the gutted Deer Street home.
Acting Senior Sergeant Lionel Joseph, of the arson squad, said police were baffled why the pair didn’t escape.
“What we have been told from the witnesses is that the deceased actually alerted two other occupants about the fire and assisted the two other occupants in getting out of the premises,” he said.
“We can’t piece together how the deceased didn’t get out of the premises.” Emergency services were called to the burning unit about 12:45am to find the survivors – two seriously injured men in their 30s – outside the premises.
Police believe all four lived in the public housing unit.
Senior Sergeant Joseph said the dead occupants were known to police.
The house had been the scene of a siege in December 2011.
He said there were no reports of suspicious activity but all avenues were being looked at to determine the cause of the deadly blaze. Next-door neighbour Ruth said she and her husband were awoken by screams in the street.
She and another neighbour tried to douse the front and the back of the house using garden hoses before the firefighters arrived.
“We had to do something,” said Ruth, who didn’t give her last name.
She said the flames spread to her own property, but the house remained unscathed.
“We were lucky. All the back fence was burnt, as well as the pergola, but at least we saved the house.”
Jack Lynch, who lives in a rear unit with his mother at the same address as the fire, drove through the flames to escape the inferno.
“I was asleep and I heard one of the people in house yelling ‘fire, fire, fire’,” he said. “Mum was awake and she said she heard a loud bang. She said it sounded like thunder. We grabbed all our stuff and the cars and got out of there.”
– Angus Thompson