Two young boys have lost their mother in a tragic house fire in Roleystone.
Neighbours from all sides recalled being woken by the children’s terrified screams, loud explosions, and panicked banging on their doors.
Emergency services were called to the traumatic scene on Tyers Road shortly after midnight on Monday night.
Dirk Matthiesen was just heading to bed for the night when he saw the fire.
He raced over to help and spotted two young kids inside the burning house with a torch, “banging” on the wire mesh of the security screen door.
“They were screaming ‘mum, mum’,” he said.
He smashed through a window to get to the seven and nine-year old boys, but said the dense smoke prevented him from re-entering the house.
Acting Senior Sergeant Chris de Bruin praised the quick-thinking actions of Mr Matthiesen and other neighbours who rushed in to help.
“Two children managed to be saved while the house was on fire so their actions were commendable,’ he said.
“Without their actions, this situation could be a lot worse.”
By the time firefighters arrived, flames had engulfed the entire house.
Scott Higgins said he could feel the intensity of the heat from the inferno as he madly hosed his backyard to prevent his own house from going up too, with only a few metres and a stand of tall trees separating it from his neighbours’.
“The flames went up about 20 feet from the roof,” he said.
His wife, Danielle, was panicking, packing everything of value – including the family cat – into the car.
“But the firies did a great job. They got it under control pretty quickly,” Mr Higgins said.
During all the chaos, no one was able to find the children’s mother, Elizabeth Quijano.
Shortly after sunrise, when the firefighters were finally able to enter the blackened remains of the home, the worst was confirmed.
“I’m still just shell-shocked, I think, we didn’t know she was in there,” Ms Higgins said.
Acting Senior Sergeant de Bruin said the children’s father was not home at the time of the fire, but was understandably “devastated”.
The cause of the fire is still unknown and investigations are continuing.
Acting Senior Sergeant de Bruin said the arson squad had found no signs to indicate it had been “deliberately lit”.
The Roleystone community was in mourning on Tuesday as news of the tragedy spread.
Outpourings of condolences flooded social media.
Premier Roger Cook also shared his sentiments on Tuesday, describing the events as “desperately sad”.
“We’re obviously deeply relieved that the kids were able to be rescued from that situation,” he said.
“But for someone to lose their life, and to lose their life under such circumstances, [is] incredibly saddening and our hearts go out to everyone involved.”