Girl, 12, fire hero
By ALEX EASTON and SAMANTHA TURNBULL
A 12-YEAR-OLD girl leapt from a three-metre high window to escape a burning house at Casino at the weekend, only to run back in to rescue her young brother.
Rebecca Bradshaw risked her life to save her three-yearold brother, James, from the Callistemon Street house, suffering minor burns to her arms and singeing her hair with the intense heat from the fire.
Rebecca's mother, Annette, yesterday praised her daughter for her common sense in, first, escaping the fire, and for her bravery in going back in to rescue James, who also suffered minor burns.
Annette said she was at work when the fire broke out on Saturday afternoon and a family friend, who was caring for the children, was fighting desperately to douse the fire raging through the fibro home.
The battle was hopeless. Annette said the fire took only five minutes to incinerate the house and the heat was so intense fibro panels were literally exploding within the building.
Still shaken from the enormity of the event, Annette yesterday said she and her four children had lost everything in the blaze; but she felt only relief that Rebecca and James had survived the fire.
She said she was also grateful for the support she had received from friends and neighbours, who had already given them a supply of spare clothes and other items to help them.
Sadly, the fire did claim one life ? the family's one-year-old Maltese terrier, Shaggy.
Annette said the fire started after James managed to get a box of matches from a blackout cabinet in the house.
While playing with the matches, James had accidentally set fire to a mattress, which then spread to the walls and into the ceiling.
James, fearing he would get in trouble, hid under some furniture as the fire worked its way through the house.
Rebecca said that the fire had already trapped her in a room at the back of the house by the time the fire alarm went off, forcing her to escape through a high window.
"I didn't know he was still inside," Rebecca said.
"I heard him yelling out my name, so I went back in through the back door. It wasn't burning that much there.
"I found James in the mid- dle of the loungeroom."
Rebecca said she and James both sustained minor burns from the heat inside the house.
"No fire touched me. It was just really hot," she said.
Neighbours Craig Long and Kristine Weston said they tried to help get the fire out before firefighters arrived.
Mr Long said he brought his garden hose over to the house, but was forced back when win- dows began exploding.