Neighbours tried to save family from fire

Heroic neighbours broke windows, bashed doors and suffered burns trying to save a family from a Brisbane fire that killed a three-year-old boy.


Inspector Glen Pointing says at least one of the neighbours was cut breaking in to the double-storey Beenleigh unit that was destroyed by the blaze on Sunday night.

It’s believed two neighbours suffered smoke inhalation and minor burns.

Ben Pugh was the first man to respond to the fire and was frantic as he tried to save the family, his next door neighbour Denise Fitzpatrick told The Courier-Mail.

“He was breaking windows, trying to get the door down, running up and down the stairs, he tried everything,” she said.

“He was great – he’s just devastated this morning that the kids were inside.”

Insp Pointing confirmed the three-year-old boy died in the blaze while his mother, believed to be in her 30s, is fighting for her life in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

The boy’s father, also in his 30s, one-year-old sister and five-year-old brother are all in a stable condition.

Another neighbour, Dane Wallace, was watching TV on Sunday night when he heard screams.

“I looked out the window and there were flames coming out of the building,” he said.

“I told my partner Kelly to call triple-zero and then went down to help out, offered to do whatever I could.”

Insp Pointing said it was too early to determine what caused the fire but the incident would be treated as suspicious until investigations had been completed.

He could not confirm whether the unit was fitted with working smoke alarms.

Detectives will spend the day interviewing neighbours before preparing a report for the coroner.