Blaze robs flood-hit family of a fresh start

Three fire crews responded to the fire on Chalk St, Leichhardt, at around 11.40am, which gutted the home.
Three fire crews responded to the fire on Chalk St, Leichhardt, at around 11.40am, which gutted the home. Rob Williams

AN Ipswich family who lost all in the 2011 floods were again left without any possessions after a devastating fire destroyed their home on Monday.

The Chalk St home in Leichhardt was gutted by the fire which started in a bedroom just prior to midday.

Initial investigations suggest the fire was started by a child playing with a lighter.

Dennis O'Reilly was home with his two nephews aged nine and four, when a mattress caught on fire.

Mr O'Reilly said the fire quickly spread throughout the house, but he escaped with the two boys unharmed from the burning building.

He said the fire was intense.

"It was horrible. I've never seen so much fire in my life. I was so scared," he said.

Mr O'Reilly went to the neighbours for help, but they weren't home.

His sister and the mother of the two boys Kristy O'Reilly arrived home soon after their escape.

Ms O'Reilly and her family had only just been relocated to the home in the last few weeks, once again settled after losing everything in the floods.

The fire was another blow for her family, who once again find themselves with nothing.

"We were only just starting to get back on our feet, now we are back to square one," she said.

She thanked the QFRS for their help and support during and after the blaze.

QFRS Ipswich station officer Matthew Bulow said the home was extensively damaged by the fire.

Mr Bulow said the fire is not being treated as suspicious.

He said Mr O'Reilly was alerted by working smoke alarms.

"People were home at the time, they all got out, they were all accounted for," he said.

"Everything inside the house was damaged."

Neighbour Lindy Allan said the home was fully alight in a matter of minutes.

"I heard a scream, and you know a scream of desperation when you hear it," she said. "Then I heard a shuffling at the neighbour's door. I went out and the flames were coming out the lounge windows and then it just took off."

Topics:  house fire, leichhardt, qfrs, queensland floods



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