Authorities say two beloved grandparents who died at a home tried to escape the flames but were trapped.
Sonia and Orosil Airspe, aged 75 and 81, were unable to escape when their home in Lily Street, Wetherill Park, in Sydney’s south-west, caught fire at 6am on Wednesday.
At 6:45 a.m., neighbors noticed smoke coming from the two-story house and were known to emergency responders.
Then two brave neighbors went on a rescue mission to try to save the grandparents, but they couldn’t open the window shutters upstairs.
Both men were inhaled by smoke during their determined attempt, and one had to be taken to hospital.
Two grandparents tragically died in a fireplace at a house in south-west Sydney on Wednesday morning
The house is believed to be locked from the inside to prevent the grandfather, who is thought to have dementia, from wandering around
The two victims of the Wetherill Park fire are grandparents Sonia and Orosil Airspe, who lived in the house for many years.
Firefighters eventually forced their way into the house that had been burning for almost three hours and found our bodies.
“Firefighters extracted the woman and administered CPR until NSW paramedics arrived, but the couple were pronounced dead at the scene,” NSW Fire and Rescue said in a statement.
“Firefighters continued to attack the flames and extinguished the flames around 9:30 a.m.”
The FRNSW used 24 firefighters and 6 firefighters to put out a fire at a house in Lily Road.
FRNSW Deputy Commissioner Megan Stiefler told 7 News that it emerged the grandparents had “tried to leave”, primarily based on evidence recovered from inside.
She added that it was difficult for firefighters to enter the house due to tight security.
It is clear that Mr Airspe suffered from dementia and most of the available exits from the house are locked from the inside to prevent him from leaving unnoticed.
Neighbors said the elderly couple were standard and rarely had their grandchildren at home.
Ms Stifler said it is important for households to check that their smoke alarms are working, but also to discuss their plans with their relationship around the household hearth.
“If you have older relatives, please sit down, chat, talk about their escape plan,” she said.
Ms Stiffler said the deaths were a ‘tragic reminder’ of how damaged homes can be in winter.
NSW Fire and Rescue Services took nearly three hours and used 24 firefighters and 6 firefighters to put out the Lily Road house blaze.
Sonia Airspe (pictured), who died in her fireplace aged 75, is said to have tried to protect the house so her husband would not run away and be lost
Neighbors said the elderly couple were standard and rarely had their grandchildren at home. Pictured is Orosil Airspe, who died aged 81
So far this winter, six people have died in house fires in New South Wales, but one more than at the same time in 2022.
In the past 12 months, 16 people have reportedly been killed in winter house fires in New South Wales.
Fire and Rescue NSW has warned homeowners to keep all supplies at least three fingers away from the heater, ensure electric blankets don’t break and ensure smoke alarms are connected and working properly.
Experts from FRNSW’s Fire Investigation and Investigation Unit (FIRU) are currently working with NSW Police to establish where and how the fires started.