Baby body found after ’suspicious’ blaze
A heroic neighbour tried desperately to rescue two adults and a baby trapped in a burning home in Melbourne's west but was forced back by the ferocity of the flames.
The victims were found dead in the Point Cook townhouse after it was engulfed in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Arson and explosives squad detectives are investigating the fatal blaze after emergency services were called just after 3.30am on Wednesday to reports a house fire was spreading to nearby homes.
Police confirmed the death of a man just before 7.30am, with the body of a second person found later in the morning.
It was later revealed a baby was also killed.
"The trio are yet to be formally identified," police said in a statement.
"Police are still yet to establish the exact cause of the fire, however they are treating it as suspicious."
Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Kennedy said there were several "very brave efforts" by neighbours who tried to free the victims as the fire took hold.
He said one man grabbed a ladder to try to get upstairs but couldn't because of the intensity of the flames.
"Certainly, very brave efforts by a number of neighbours who initially went to the front and because of the extent of the fire then went to the back and attempted to rescue the occupants from upstairs," Sergeant Kennedy said.
"Very heroic and brave effort. Sadly, they did their best but the fire took hold."
When firefighters arrived at the Totem Way address just before 4am, they found the double-storey townhouse alight and the flames spreading to homes on either side.
The occupants of the neighbouring homes were able to safely evacuate before emergency services arrived, but the intensity of the blaze and the structural integrity of the building prevented firefighters from searching the main property.
A Fire Rescue Victoria spokesman said the blaze took one hour to bring under control.
Sergeant Kennedy said the fire was being treated as suspicious due to its intensity when firefighters arrived, with the blaze raging at the front and upstairs.
"With accidental fires that doesn't really occur," he said.
The fire destroyed one townhouse and damaged the two neighbouring properties.
Sergeant Kennedy said it was a "tragic, extensive, traumatic and complex fire scene" and parts of the house were still flaring up into the afternoon.
He said the extensive damage had so far made it too dangerous for an arson chemist to get into the three-bedroom house.
He said firefighters were trying to make the scene safe so the arson chemist could get into the property to investigate, with the process potentially extending into Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
"I'm sure with our arson chemist and forensic experts, we have a large team here, I'm hopeful that we'll get those answers," he said.
A community advice message was issued, recommending people in the area stay indoors, shut windows and switch off any reverse cycle airconditioning units due to the large amount of smoke.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Originally published as Baby body found after 'suspicious' blaze