Oil heater may have caused fire which killed baby girl

 

A house fire which killed a five month-old baby girl and gutted a family home south west of Sydney may have been accidentally started by an oil heater, according to police.

The blaze on Avon Dam Rd in Bargo broke out at about 6:25pm on Sunday night, with a 79 year-old woman, 57 year-old man, 27 year-old woman and an 18 month-old boy escaping with minor injuries.

Emergency crews arrived to extinguish the fire and later discovered the body of the baby girl still inside her bassinet.

Camden Police Area Command Duty Officer Chief Inspector Stephen Greer said the grandfather of the baby was the first to notice the blaze from the girl's room, where the fire is said to have ignited.

The baby was found unresponsive by paramedics. Picture: John Grainger
The baby was found unresponsive by paramedics. Picture: John Grainger

"The baby was asleep in the bassinet at the time," Chief Insp. Greer said.

"The grandparents tried to get to the child, but due to the smoke and fire they were unable to."

Chief Insp Greer said it was "too early to tell" what caused the blaze but police were investigating an oil heater as a possible cause, and shared the little girl's family were "devastated" by her death.

"The death of a five-month-old child, or any child, is absolutely tragic - everybody gets affected," he said.

"My heart goes out to the family, it's just terrible."

The fire may have been accidentally started by an oil heater, according to police. Picture: John Grainger
The fire may have been accidentally started by an oil heater, according to police. Picture: John Grainger

Police and fire investigators continued to inspect the burnt property throughout the night and into Monday morning, and a six year-old local boy was seen laying flowers outside the scene.

Next door neighbour Chris Croucher, 31, dashed to get a hose when he heard "popping noises" and saw flames licking at his neighbours' property on Sunday night.

"I hear the noise thought someone was out there smashing a windscreen but there was a fire," Mr Croucher said.

"The neighbours were screaming, I grabbed the hose but there was nothing else we could do, it all happened a bit too late."

It's understood four generations of one family lived in the home, including a 79 year-old woman, a 57 year-old man and the 27 year-old woman with her two children, an 18 month-old boy and the five month-old baby girl who died.

The charred remains of the home at Bargo. Picture: John Grainger
The charred remains of the home at Bargo. Picture: John Grainger

Mr Croucher described his neighbours as "nice people" and said the incident on the semi-rural NSW street was "horrible".

"I don't know them well but they're always nice enough," he said.

"There wasn't much we could do, it's pretty scary … it's horrible, what happened (to the baby)."

Family and friends arrived at the scene to collect dogs kept on the property, and were brought to tears of joy when police investigators rescued a small dachshund found in the wreckage of the home's front room.

Neighbours told The Daily Telegraph they believe the family kept several pets including cats and dogs, some of which may have perished in the inferno.

Fire crews on the scene where a baby has died in a house fire. Picture: TNV
Fire crews on the scene where a baby has died in a house fire. Picture: TNV

Fellow Avon Dam Rd resident Colin Young 57, has lived opposite the destroyed property for five years and ran outside as the inferno broke out across the street.

"I heard a bang as we all sat down for dinner last night and came running out, I tried to help but the fire was too intense by then," Mr Young said.

"There was lots of screaming and shouting from the other end of the property, everyone was out but we knew a baby was inside … we just couldn't get in and we couldn't see a thing, it was pitch black."

The town of Bargo was ravaged during the summer bushfire season. Picture: John Grainger
The town of Bargo was ravaged during the summer bushfire season. Picture: John Grainger

Mr Young said the loss of the five moth-old girl was "horrendous".

"I don't even like thinking about it, I've got three young kids myself," he said.

"It's absolutely horrendous, very sad."

The tragedy is a huge blow for the small town of Bargo, which was ravaged in the horror 2019-20 bushfire season.

Originally published as Oil heater may have caused horror house fire which killed baby girl

The house will be forensically examined. Picture: John Grainger
The house will be forensically examined. Picture: John Grainger


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