A mother cradled her three young daughters in a bathroom before they all died in a horror house fire that overwhelmed their home on Sunday night.
Emergency crews rushed to the townhouse on Tulloch Grove in Glen Waverley in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs about 1.40am after the property’s garage was set alight.
Kaoru Okano and her three girls – aged three, five, and seven – had tried in vain to take cover from the blaze in the en suite as the suburban home became engulfed in smoke.
Kaoru Okano lost her life alongside her three young daughters (pictured) in a horrific house fire in Melbourne’s east in the early hours of Sunday morning
Kaoru Okano had tried to take cover from the blaze in the home’s en suite bathroom as the property became engulfed in smoke
Ms Okano, who is believed to be of Japanese heritage, had regularly posted loving photos of her children on Facebook.
‘All of the smoke was spreading across the street and around the corner,’ the neighbour told The Herald Sun.
Another neighbour explained the layout of the house made it extremely difficult for the woman to escape, and said the front door would have been her only option but it had been engulfed in smoke.
‘It was just horrible,’ she said. ‘Those poor children couldn’t get out.’
It took 35 firefighters several hours to bring the blaze under control, at which point they found the four bodies in the wreckage.
The house fire has also left another man in hospital with serious injuries
A man, believed to be in his 50s, was able to escape and was taken directly to hospital.
Authorities are working to determine the cause of the fire, but the arson squad is on hand and investigating.
The woman and three children inside the two-storey townhouse are yet to be formally identified.
‘The relationship with the occupants is undetermined at this point of time but more details will come to light with the investigation as it proceeds,’ Fire Rescue Victoria assistant chief fire officer Costa Katsikis said.
‘Upon arrival they were confronted by a fierce fire, a high fire load, a very hot fire that tragically ended in the loss of four lives and one person taken to hospital with smoke inhalation,’ he said.
Neighbours were also evacuated as a precaution as smoke billowed into the community.
Anyone with further information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Authorities are working to determine the cause of the fire, but the arson squad is on hand and investigating