The man found dead in a car fire in Brisbane on Wednesday morning, along with three young children, has been identified as former New Zealand Warriors rugby league player Rowan Baxter.
Four people died in the incident after a car the family were in was allegedly set alight in Brisbane’s east. A woman also in the car, believed to be Mr Baxter’s wife and mother of the three children, was rushed to hospital with serious injuries.
Police have not officially identified those that died, but The Courier Mail reported that Mr Baxter and his three young children, Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey, perished in the horrific incident. Queensland Police indicated to Yahoo News Australia the family were believed to be involved in the incident.
Authorities were called to Raven Street in Camp Hill at 8.20am on Wednesday morning. A vehicle was reportedly parked near Mrs Baxter’s parents’ home when it exploded into flames.
Mr Baxter worked as a fitness coach in Brisbane. On his social media accounts, he routinely posted adoring images of his young children who were all under the age of 10, expressing his deep love for them.
“Goodnight ratbags always in my heart,” he wrote last month, alongside a photo at the beach with the three children.
In a video he posted on January 6 showing him playing with his kids, Mr Baxter wrote: ‘Love you to the moon and back’.
Hannah Baxter, who is also a fitness coach, ran Integr8 Fitness with Mr Baxter in the Brisbane suburb of Capalaba.
Police Minister Mark Ryan said investigations into the “tragic set of events” were ongoing.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson told reporters at the scene on Wednesday morning that the children who died were known to the adults involved.
“On arrival, police and emergency services have identified five people that were involved in the fire inside the vehicle. I can confirm that we have three deceased children under the age of 10 in the vehicle,” he said.
“We have another deceased adult male who was known to the children, and we also have a victim suffering extensive injuries that are also known to the children and the adult male.”
A resident told The Australian that he heard a woman screaming at the scene screaming “he’s poured petrol on me.”
Paramedic Adrian Tong said seven vehicles with first responders and doctors were sent to the scene.
The first crews to arrive were confronted with dead people and the car on fire, he said, but the inferno was put out shortly afterwards. He said the survivor immediately became the priority for paramedics.
Neighbour Murray Campbell said he heard a number of loud bangs.
“It sounded very much like a gas cylinder explosion,” he told AAP. “It was just horrible, multiple explosions, very loud.”
Det Insp Thompson said it was too early to comment on the cause of the fire and would not confirm whether the incident was murder-suicide when pressed by reporters.
"How the fire actually occurred has not been ascertained at the moment, so for us to call it a murder-suicide or a tragic accident, it's inappropriate at this stage,” he said.
On Wednesday afternoon police would not confirm if it was a murder-suicide, but said preliminary investigations indicate the woman was driving the car and the man was in the front passenger seat prior to the incident.
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