Three children die in ferocious house fire at Singleton in NSW Hunter Valley

Written by on 26/06/2019

Firefighters say they were beaten back by flames as they tried to save a young family from an “intense” house fire in Singleton in the NSW Hunter Valley which has left three children dead.

Two five-year-old girls, believed to be twins, were taken to Singleton Hospital but could not be saved and the body of their 11-year-old brother was later found inside the house.

Their 31-year-old mother and an eight-year-old girl were rescued from the house by neighbours.

The mother is being treated for burns to her back and forehead, and she and her daughter are being treated for smoke inhalation.

Police praised the efforts of the local residents for saving two lives.

“I would like to emphasise the heroic nature of the four residents in the nearby vicinity who tried to assist the people inside the house … and importantly got the mother and [daughter] out,” Superintendent Chad Gillies said.

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The house in Brittliffe Close was well alight when police arrived about 3.30am, with screaming, the sound of smoke alarms and glass breaking waking neighbours.

Brock Forbes was one of many locals who were already at the house, trying to douse the blaze with hoses.

“Me and me family just woke up from a big bang and [we heard] just smashing and screaming so we ran out and grabbed the hose,” he said.

“I was trying to put the fire out and trying to save them and firefighters came and got it under control.”

Firefighters said the extreme heat from the fire forced crews into defensive mode, which meant they were forced to fight the blaze from the outside.

“Unfortunately no further internal firefighting operations could continue due to the intensity of the fire and the risk of the structure collapse,” Superintendent Joshua Turner said.

A burnt window frame in a brick wall.
However, firefighters were able to enter the house through the windows of two bedrooms and remove two children.

Superintendent Turner said there was a combustible fireplace at the front of the house and investigations will look at whether that was a contributing factor to the blaze.

“In these winter months, heating appliances are quite prominent in fire causes,” he said.

A firefighter walks in front of a house burnt by fire.

‘This will tear at the heart of Singleton’

The tragedy is expected to have a strong ripple effect through the tight-knit community of Singleton, which has a population of around 22,000.

Local resident Rebel Maskey said she hoped counselling services would be on offer, especially for children.

“All the kids play with everybody so it’s going to affect them all,” she said.

Ms Maskey said her cousin, who was on the scene early, was “distraught”.

A baby and a woman standing in front of a fence.

The deaths will “tear at the heart of Singleton”, said Superintendent Gillies.

“We’re all in this together,” he said.

Superintendent Turner said all firefighters who worked on the blaze were locals.

“Everybody in a town like this knows somebody who knows somebody,” he said.

“So this isn’t just a matter of finishing the job and moving on — there’s going to be a lot of ongoing work and ongoing support that’s needed.”


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