“Hurry, the babies can’t breathe”.
This is reportedly the desperate plea a woman made to emergency services following a house fire that killed twin four-year-old girls on a commune near Byron Bay on Sunday.
Their father and his partner returned home from a bonfire elsewhere in the multiple-occupancy community in the early hours of the morning to discover thick plumes of smoke billowing from the girl’s bedroom, the Daily Telegraph reported.
In a frantic triple-0 call, a woman tells the operator: “Hurry, the babies can’t breathe”.
The publication adds that a source said she thought it may have been an electrical fire.
It has since been revealed initial investigations suggest the fatal fire may have been sparked by a candle left burning on top of a piano in the same room the sisters were sleeping.
Tweed-Byron Police District Commander Dave Roptell said the girls were visiting their father as part of a joint custody arrangement.
Tributes flow as investigations continue
The property has been declared a crime scene as officers from the NSW Police arson squad continue to examine the area.
Authorities have not released the identity of the girls or their family, but Byron Shire Mayor Michael Lyon told the ABC both parents were involved in upcoming local government election campaigns.
"So many of us know the parents and the children," he said.
Mr Lyon said the tight-knit Goonengerry community is in a “state of shock”.
"For all of us that are part of the community, it is just unfathomable."
A neighbour also told The Daily Telegraph they had heard the girls’ father was “in a bad state” and blamed himself for the tragedy.
Locals have laid flowers at the entrance to the northern NSW property as members of the tight-knit community express their grief.
One bouquet was left with a note that read: "No words, mourning with you”.
Social media has also been flooded with tributes following the “heartbreaking news”, with many asking how they can help the family during this difficult time.
“Absolutely devastating, our community is in serious mourning,” one woman commented on a post in the Byron Bay Community Board Facebook group.
“Deepest condolences to the family and friends of these two little Angels.” another wrote.
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