A former NRL player, Rowan Baxter, and his three young children have died in a horrific car fire in Brisbane.
The mother of the children, Hannah Baxter, was critically injured, when the car was allegedly set on fire in suburban Camp Hill early on Wednesday.
The ABC says it understands Ms Baxter jumped from the vehicle and yelled “he’s poured petrol on me” before the car burst into flames about 8.30am.
Neighbours reported hearing multiple explosions before seeing the car engulfed in flames.
Detective Inspector Mark Thompson later confirmed three children under 10 had died in the car.
“We have another deceased male, who was known to the children,” he said. But he would not say if the fire had been started by an accelerant.
Baxter was a former New Zealand Warriors player who reportedly owned a gym with his wife – a former trampolining champion. He also worked as a trainer with professional sports clubs.
There are reports the Baxters had been involved in a dispute over custody of Laianah, Aaliyah and Trey, but that has not been confirmed by police.
Police would not comment on how the fire started.
“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,” Detective Inspector Thompson said.
“I’ve seen some horrific scenes – this is up there with some of the best of them.
“It’s a terrible thing to be presented with.”
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 still-burning car, he said, but the inferno was quickly put out.
Mr Tong said the survivors – including a passer-by who had tried to help those in the car – immediately became the priority for paramedics.
“Somebody did step in to try and help that was close by,” Mr Tong said.
“I think he tried his best to get to the car.”
The man received non-threatening burns to his upper body and face.
Mr Tong said Ms Baxter had severe burns to a significant part of her body.
The car has been wrapped in orange plastic but appeared to have been severely damage.
Police established a major crime scene, cordoning off a large part of the street and side streets.
Neighbour Murray Campbell said he heard several loud bangs.
“It sounded very much like a gas cylinder explosion,” he said.
He said he called triple zero, and did not see anyone run from the car, which was engulfed in flames.
“It was just horrible – multiple explosions, very loud,” he said.
Phil Patane said he raced to the scene to check on his parents, who live in the street. He said they were distressed.
“It’s just devastating, really. You wouldn’t think it would happen here in this street.”
Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan described the incident as “horrific”.
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