In the south-west of Melbourne, the victims of a devastating blaze that destroyed a home were named as a young family of three.
At around 3.40 a.m. on Wednesday, Abbey Forrest, 19, her husband Inda Sohal, also 19, and their 19-day-old daughter Ivy were asleep upstairs in their Point Cook townhouse when it went up in flames.
Later that morning, the pair were presumed dead, but Ivy’s body was not discovered until later that day in what was left of the three-bedroom two-storey house.
The Abbey’s sister Emily described the couple and their little girl as “beautiful souls” in a fundraiser for the family that would be sorely missed.
“In the early hours of Wednesday, December 2nd, a house fire in Point Cook claimed the lives of my 19-year-old sister, her loving partner and their almost three-week-old daughter,” she wrote.
“I’m raising money to help with the cost of funerals and memorials for all three of these beautiful souls who had their lives tragically cut short.
“Any help is greatly appreciated.”
It is also important to ascertain the cause of the fire, but it is viewed as suspicious.
“It certainly is being treated as suspicious, predominantly because of the intensity of the fire,” Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Kennedy said.
“When fire services first got here it was fully engulfed. The townhouse was raging, particularly at the front and upstairs … (and) with accidental fires that doesn’t normally occur.”
Arson and explosive detectives suspect that an accelerant might have been used and are examining a mattress found on the floor in the house’s downstairs room that has apparently been sleeping on in recent days.
‘Frantically gasping for air’
Neighbors made a “heroic and brave effort” to save the inhabitants, including one who used a ladder but was overcome by the strength of the fire, Kennedy said.
“People were yelling out, ‘There’s someone in there. There’s somebody still in there,’” a man who broke down the garage door in a bid to assist told 7NEWS.
“From floor to ceiling there was fire. I probably took two to three steps and that was it, I couldn’t go any further.”
One neighbour who had been woken by his own smoke detectors alerted 7NEWS that he had seen a woman “frantically gasping for air” in the home window.
“We tried everything, we didn’t know what else to do really, we couldn’t run into the house,” he said.
“We just threw an axe through the window and broke it hoping she would climb out and one of us would catch her.
“I don’t think she had the energy to scream she was just trying to breathe.”