A teenager is dead, his father is critical and his younger sister is fighting for her life after an explosion in a tent in Mandurah caravan park early this morning.
16-year-old Ben Spies, his 13-year-old sister Georgina and his father Brett were asleep at the Timbertop Caravan Park when the explosion ripped through their tent.
The family were taken to the Peel Health Campus where Ben was declared dead. His sister was airlifted to Princess Margaret Hospital where she remains on life support in a critical condition while her father is in a similar situation at Royal Perth Hospital.
Georgina's mother and step-father have traveled to the hospital along with a number of the teenager's friends.
WA Police Inspector Bill Munnee said it was a tragic incident for both the family and the community. He said it was still too early to tell what caused the explosion.
Insp Munnee said both Georgina and Brett were "clinging to life".
"The family is absolutely shattered and devastated and they want people to pray for them and give them moral support to help them through this tough time in their life," he said.
Friends have flocked to facebook to pay their respects to popular 16-year-old Ben, with several tribute sites starting up in the past few hours.
"I'll never forget you. You were the nicest, most caring person i know. dearly missed by all R.I.P," Shenai Ellen Toussaint-Roil posted.
"He was a great, always with a smile on his face, your laugh and just you will not be forgotten. We love you Ben," wrote Ryan Jones.
Several members of his Mandurah Centrals football club have also said they would be dedicating this weekend's game to his memory.
Witnesses have told of chaos and "yelling and screaming" as residents at the Timber Top caravan park battled flames up to 15m high before the explosion.
Sharon Doyle, who was staying at a nearby house not at the caravan park on holiday from Margaret River, said she could hear the father and daughter yelling and screaming.
"People were yelling out 'help, help me'," Mrs Doyle said. "The daughter was more wimpering.
"It was just horrible. Trying to get those sounds out of your head is hard, even now."
She said the flames were "as high as the trees".
Another witness, Trevor, said he was about 30m away in a nearby house as the drama unfolded.
He said the flames were 10 to 15 metres high and that he saw the flames before the explosion.
He could hear people "yelling and screaming" and a lot of activity.
"You couldn't tell what the person was saying but they were obviously in a lot of distress," Trevor said.
"Everyone who was in the caravan park would have been there.
"They were putting water on flames before the fire brigade got there."
The 16-year-old boy died at the Peel Health Campus.
Barry Lawrence, who coached the 16-year-old in football for Mandurah Centrals last year, said he was a "loveable type of character, a bit of a larrikin" who would always light up training sessions.
"I watched him last year grow into a young adult," Mr Lawrence said.
"I taught him for a short period but the relationship we built together was not only as a coach but a friend.
"He was a good player and could have been a good player in the future."
Caravan park resident Tony, who was staying on holiday, said he heard screaming that one of the residents tried to battle the flames with a garden hose.
"I ran around trying to find another hose but there was only one so we just did what we could," Tony said.
Permanent resident Kevin O'Neill Tony said the tragedy had sent shock waves through the caravan park.
He said there are about 40 or 50 permanent residents.
Peel district inspector Danny Mulligan said the family appeared to be well equipped for camping.
He said he could not comment on suggestions the family had moved out of rented accommodation.
Inspector Mulligan said the tent was engulfed in flames by the time emergency services arrived.
His 13-year-old sister was airlifted by helicopter to Princess Margaret Hospital where she remains in a critical condition. The children's father is in a serious but stable condition in Royal Perth Hospital.
Police Insp. Neil Blair it was unclear at this stage what caused the blast, but it was possible a gas bottle was responsible.
Police are investigating.
A spokeswoman from the Timber Top Caravan Park said the family had been living in the tent for about a week.
There are reports the family had moved from rental accommodation in Mandurah because of financial difficulties.