Australia

'Explosions' heard before fatal Brisbane house fire, police confirm

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Three people are dead after an explosion and fire tore through a Brisbane home, with neighbours telling authorities they smelled fuel and heard unusual noises.

Neighbours have reported smelling fuel and hearing a woman's cries for help as an explosion and fire tore through a Brisbane home, killing three people.

The Everton Hills home was engulfed early on Tuesday morning, sparking a dramatic rescue attempt by two men.

But the ferocity of the blaze - which sent flames four storeys into the air - beat them back and firefighters took almost an hour to get the fire under control.

 

When they searched the two-storey brick property in Pavonia Street, they found the bodies of two women and a man.

Police are trying to establish if a woman and her adult son who lived at the house are among the dead. The house is now a crime scene.

"Calls from neighbours have indicated there were unusual noises associated with the fire... There were explosions reported by neighbours, the smell of fuel, things like that," Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Superintendent Bevan Moore has told The Courier-Mail.

Emergency services attend to the scene of an explosion at a house in Brisbane, Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
Emergency services attend to the scene of an explosion at a house in Brisbane, Tuesday, April 17, 2018.
AAP

Neighbour Luke Demner and another man desperately tried to get into the burning house to save the occupants.

"There were flames meeting me at the door," Mr Demner told The Courier-Mail.

"We tried kicking in the front door, but no luck, so we went around the back.

The glass door was already open, but we called out and didn't hear anything back."

Neighbour Lindsay Ostrofski said he heard an explosion that was "like a bomb".

"It rumbled the ground and my wife heard ... screaming," he told the paper.

Rowena Ostrofski said she heard a woman crying "help, help".

Nicola Bigarelli lives five doors away and was up before dawn, feeding her baby, when a succession of loud bangs rang out.

"At about 4.45am I heard a bang, and then I heard more bangs every 10 to 15 minutes after and they were slowly getting louder. It sounded like construction, like wood snapping or metal being hit," she told AAP.

Just before 5.30am she heard a very large bang, and soon after the wail of sirens.

"The flames were twice as high as the house," Ms Bigarelli said.

Police Inspector Daniel Bragg said neighbours had reported hearing "a loud explosion, quite significant" and seeing flames that were visible from some distance away.

He said it wasn't yet clear if the explosion sparked the fire, or if it was the other way round.

"We're investigating it as a suspect house fire until evidence comes to light that shows us otherwise," he told reporters.

"We're trying to put together the pieces of this jigsaw, what started this fire. We need to find out if it's suspicious. It might have been just a terrible accident."

Insp Bragg said it was extraordinary that no neighbouring properties were damaged, given the size and intensity of the fire.

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