UPDATED 12:20 pm: The frantic efforts of neighbours and emergency services were not enough to save a 70-year-old woman who died in a house fire in Kambah last night.
More than 10 calls were made to triple zero at about 7:45 pm last night (29 November) alerting ACT Policing and ACT Fire and Rescue to the fire in McTaggart Crescent in Kambah.
Detective Inspector Matthew Reynolds said the cause of the fire is still being investigated and further details of how and where it started will be known once ACT Fire and Rescue give the all-clear for the structural integrity of the house.
“The damage to the house is extensive, but the house needs to be structurally assessed before we can allow people inside to carry out our forensic investigations,” Det Insp Reynolds said.
“We’re not investigating anything suspicious at this point in time.”
When firefighters arrived, they located two people, a husband and wife, inside the home at the time of the fire. It is understood the couple were long-term residents of the property.
Superintendent Paul Flynn of ACT Fire and Rescue said the 74-year-old man was able to exit the rear of the house and was found suffering from smoke inhalation. The man is being treated in hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
Next-of-kin have been informed of the woman’s death.
“The fire was extensive and when the crews arrived on scene the house was fully ablaze,” Supt Flynn said.
“Neighbours did try to render assistance, which is to be commended but they were unable to enter the property due to the extent of the fire.”
He said the first firefighting unit was on scene within seven minutes and a further three ACT Fire and Rescue pumpers and a breathing apparatus van and two commanders arrived soon after. Firefighters were able to contain the blaze to the one property while neighbouring residents were also told to evacuate.
While the source of the fire is yet to be determined, police and emergency services said it was commendable that neighbours tried to help and are looking out for one another.
“It is great that neighbours are keeping an eye on each other, but we’d like to remind people to have a look around their houses for combustibles and other sources of ignition, whether it’s candles, heaters and other materials around the house,” Supt Flynn said.
The woman’s death is the first fatality from a house fire since a woman and her two children were found dead after a house fire in Bonner on 19 February.
Police will continue to investigate the fire today and a report will be prepared for the ACT Coroner.