Neighbours' heroic house fire rescue efforts in vain
THE heroic acts of a group of Palm Lake Resort residents have been praised following the tragic death of a Yamba retiree.
Police were called to the retirement village on Fuschia St about 11.30pm on Sunday, after reports a 62-year-old woman had suffered burns in a fire at her unit.
Coffs/Clarence crime manager Detective Inspector Darren Jameson said nearby residents pulled the woman out of the fire in an attempt to save her and were able to contain the blaze to the bedroom, extinguishing it before emergency services arrived.
The woman was airlifted to Brisbane Hospital but died several hours later.
Initial medical reports suggested she suffered extensive burns to more than 90% of her body.
"Obviously, from our perspective, it was quite a heroic act by witnesses to attempt to save her life," Insp Jameson said.
"Unfortunately, in this incident she tragically passed away."
One of the residents who helped the woman was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene.
Insp Jameson said local officers would liaise with Queensland police and the coroner during the investigation, but early indications suggested the blaze was not suspicious.
"We are following a number of inquires, but we believe the woman may have been a smoker so we are also investigating whether some type of smoking accident in the bedroom may have initiated the fire," he said.
"Although it's too early to indicate what started the fire, the possibility we're looking at a lit cigarette being smoked in bed as a potential cause is a timely reminder to the smokers in the community of the dangers of smoking in bed."
Palm Lake Resort manager Barbara Moore said the woman was well-known at the retirement village and would be missed by all.
"It was an unfortunate accident," she said.
"All the residents rallied around to help her; all of them were just terrific with what they did."
A report will be prepared for the coroner in the coming weeks.