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Blaze destroys home despite brave police

Fire rips through a family home, leaving just a blackened shell.
Fire rips through a family home, leaving just a blackened shell.

A BLACKENED shell is all that remains of Kerry Motlee's home after a suspicious blaze engulfed the property of her family.

Already reeling from a family emergency, seeing her home destroyed on Saturday pushed the normally positive Anglicare worker to bitter tears.

"My mother had just had a stroke, and then I get a call saying my house has burned down," she said.

The community worker and mother was surrounded by family and friends from Chinchilla as she this week sifted through debris and melted plastic, salvaging what she could.

After years supporting the disabled and disadvantaged, she said she had no intention of staying in Tara.

Detectives are investigating the fire, which was contained to the residence by the heroic actions of two local police officers.

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Constable Justin Drier was on patrol with Constable Simon Giuliano at 12.45am on Saturday, and was about to retire when he noticed a smoke haze emanating from Binnie St.

Entering the property from the alley to the rear, Drier and Giuliano found flames licking the roof of the laundry and spreading fast.

After confirming the house to be empty, the officers exhausted their vehicle's fire extinguisher on the blaze and attempted to control it with a garden hose.

"I realised it was too far gone, and my immediate thoughts were to create a safety zone and protect the immediate neighbours. There were gas bottles by the house next door," Constable Drier said.

"You don't think in those situations, it was just instinct. My immediate concern was to protect the person, then the property.

"The firies were quite quick, but while it was happening it seemed like an eternity."

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With help from the neighbours, 7 Binnie St was soaked before the flames spread, the red hot tin roof steaming with heat.

Neighbour Sue Eckhardt was frightened by the blaze, and thanked the constables for their quick action in saving her family home of 35 years from a similar fate as that of the Motlee residence.

"I had a terrible gut feeling that night. The dogs would not stop barking, and I knew something was wrong," she said.

"I heard this flicker, so I went inside to get my dressing gown. When I came out I saw the flames.

"Thank goodness for Justin; he went above and beyond the call of duty. Without him, we could have lost our home."

Tara firefighters, SES members and QAS ambulance officer David Hornsby all grabbed a hose and fought the fire until 5.30am, when it was declared safe.

Police investigators continue treat the incident as suspicious.

Topics:  fire, house fire, tara


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