‘There was just nothing they could do’: neighbours’ desperate attempts to rescue Tanika from blazing home

Scenes from the fatal house fire in Claymore. Photo: Nick Moir Flowers left in memory for the four-year-old girl who died in the house fire. Photo: Nick Moir

Neighbours have told how they desperately tried to enter a burning home in Sydney’s south-west to rescue a four-year-old girl who was trapped on the second floor of the building.

One man smashed the front window of the townhouse in Claymore in a frantic bid to save the little girl, while two other boys attempted to run up the stairs to reach her but were forced back by the intense flames.

The little girl, Tanika, died in the blaze that engulfed her home about 2.30pm on Tuesday.

The girl’s 22-year-old mother had raced upstairs after smelling smoke and managed to grab one of her twin daughters, Tallisha, but before she could also rescue Tanika, the mother was forced back by the intense smoke and flames.

Neighbour Hoana said the girls’ mother was outside the townhouse screaming that her child was still inside.

Hoana had phoned the fire brigade when she saw a small amount of smoke coming from the townhouse, but within seconds, the top floor of the building erupted in flames.

“It just got intense, then I heard the mum screaming,” Hoana said.

She said her two boys attempted to run inside the building to save the second child, while she ran around the back of the townhouse.

“[Somebody] told me there was another one in there, and I realised my boys were in there, but by the time I came back around they were already out, and they said there was just nothing they could do,” Hoana said.

“They couldn’t get up the stairs, it was just so intense.

She said the mother was shocked and “very shaky” as the tragedy unfolded.

“When I seen her she was just on the ground shocked. I heard her in there screaming, she was screaming,” she said.

Another neighbour, Lisiate Vaka, was playing computer games in his home when he heard a commotion outside.

He said he grabbed a metal bar and unsuccessfully attempted to force his way in through the back of the townhouse.

“I come around the front yard and I smashed the window,” he said.

“When I touched the window, the windows exploded and I saw inside it was already covered with fire.

“And the lady says ‘My daughter is up there, on the room that is on the top’.

“No-one could get in. The fire is really strong, very strong, no one could get in. Otherwise you could die too.”

Macquarie Fields Highway Patrol Officer Senior Constable David Dykes, on patrol in the area when the emergency call went out, rushed to the home and went inside in an attempt to rescue the girl.

But he, too, was forced back by the ferocity of the flames, which one neighbour said were “shooting out the windows”.

The girls’ devastated aunt, Rinnie, posted on Facebook after the tragedy that her world had been turned upside down.

“Lord i understand, you need angels up there too’ look after her in paradise please’ let her soar’

Her star shines bright!,” she wrote.

“I can’t wait to meet you again, in another life! Beautiful angel!”

She also posted a photograph of her niece, alongside the words: “R.I.P my beautiful darling aunty rinnie will always remember you as the little darling you were!

“Forever loved baby girl.

“You are my sunshine my only sunshine you make me happy when skies are grey, you’ll never know dear how much I love you, so please don’t take my sunshine away!”

She also pledged to buy a Barbie castle cake that the little girl had requested for her fifth birthday, which she was to have celebrated next month.

It would be “just as beautiful as you had imagined’ you’ll never be forgotten princess!”, her aunt wrote.

The mother suffered minor burns and was taken to Liverpool Hospital with her surviving four-year-old girl, Tallisha. Both were treated for smoke inhalation.

The little girl was released from hospital on Tuesday night, while her mother is still receiving treatment.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Published in: 杭州楼凤

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