Rithish Kirushnaneethan, a four-year-old Melbourne boy, died in the Dandenong blaze despite his mother and a family friend desperately attempting to save him.
Riteish’s distraught father who returned to the scene told Nine News:
“I miss him.”
It is reported that Rithish’s mother was cooking in the kitchen when she walked into her lounge room to find it ablaze just before 10 pm.
The mother-of-three rushed to rescue her children from the burning blaze, alongside a family friend who was boarding at their home.
Victoria Police’s Dandenong Local Area Commander Peter Koger told media:
“Could you imagine it, it’s your worst nightmare. Unfortunately, they’ve had to try and get the three children out of the house. They’ve managed to get an eight-year-old male and a three-year-old female out of the house.’
“They have gone to try and get the four-year-old out of the house and unfortunately, the flames were too great at that stage and they weren’t able to get the four-year-old out.”
Two children, aged nine and three, were rescued. While Rithish who had been asleep inside his bedroom at the time perished in the fire.
The family friend tried to save Rithish but the blaze was too strong and he was himself injured with serious burns during this process.
Commander Koger said:
“He managed to save the first child, and then he’s tried to go back in and he’s suffered significant injuries as a result, so he’s really tried really hard.”
Commander Koger added:
“The mother has also tried hard by breaking the glass once she was outside so she’s got lacerations on her hands but unfortunately by that stage, the house was engulfed.”
The mother and her two children were taken to Dandenong Public Hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation.
The father of the three children was out running errands at the time. He came home to find police and fire crews outside his gutted Dandenong home.
Commander Koger said a gas heater in the lounge room likely sparked the blaze, which had been deemed non-suspicious.
“I just ask the community to be really diligent about their heaters, especially in the colder months of winter. We’re a bit worried about the number of fires, particularly these non-suspicious type fires that have been started by gas heaters and articles of clothing that have been close to the heater or close to the flames.”
Barathan Vidhyapathy,a friend of the Tamil refugee family, has organised a GoFundMe to bear the cost of Rithish’s funeral.
The family first arrived in Australia in 2012 and were first detained in Christmas Island and then Adelaide. They have been on a bridging visa for 9 years.
The family was most recently in Perth until arriving in Melbourne just a month ago.
The page notes:
“Their entire savings and belongings are gone, as well as their loss of their dear son Rithish. They barely escaped with the clothes on their back. We are fundraising for Rithish’s funeral expenses, as well as immediate accommodation, furniture, clothing, and food for the family. All proceeds go directly to the family.”
The page has raised $79,685 of the $100,000 goal.