House fire treated as suspicious

House in flames Photo Tara Miko / CQ News
House in flames Photo Tara Miko / CQ News Tara Miko

EMERALD'S Wehmeier family escaped with just their lives when their Brooks St home was swallowed by raging flames on Monday night.

David Wehmeier was reading a book when the smoke alarms sounded just before 6pm.

He raced through his house, fighting smoke plumes, trying to find his wife.

He swept her to safety outside the burning two-storey home and re-entered, believing his son Richard was trapped inside.

"I didn't know he was at the pub because his door was locked and I thought he was still in there (the house)," Mr Wehmeier said, barely two hours after firefighters extinguished most of the flames.

"But by that state it was too late to go back and unlock his door... There were too many flames and I couldn't get in there."

The lucky escape has left the family of four with nothing, their home a shell and their possessions burnt beyond recognition.

"My whole history is gone in there - my whole life," Mr Wehmeier said.

"Everything is gone."

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service crews were called to the blaze and were initially told there was a person trapped inside.

Emerald police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Peter McFarlane said the home was totally destroyed in the fire, and police scientific officers from Emerald and Mackay and Queensland Fire and Rescue Service fire investigators from Rockhampton were investigating the scene yesterday.

"The Emerald Criminal Investigations Branch is investigating and treating it as suspicious," Sgt McFarlane said.

"Initial reports suggest the fire started downstairs and quickly engulfed the house.

"Anyone who saw the fire is urged to contact police or Crime Stoppers."

The Central Queensland News spoke with a number of witnesses on the scene on Monday night who said a man was seen running from the house shortly before the flames grew out of control.

Witnesses said they earlier heard an argument at the house followed closely by a bottle being smashed and flames appearing.

But police could not confirm the reports and urged anyone with information to contact the Emerald station and make a formal statement.

Budget Car and Truck Rentals have established a donation point for the Wehmeier family and are calling on Emerald residents to drop off any homewares they can spare.

Budget employee Aaron Tate thanked all who donated goods so far and said Mobile 4x4 was offering a free pick-up service.

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