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Family home destroyed by fire

A house has been destroyed by fire in Meringandan.
A house has been destroyed by fire in Meringandan.

UPDATE: A rugby league club has reached out to the Murphy family in its time of desperate need.

Geoff and Heather Murphy could do nothing but watch as their family home at Meringandan was destroyed by fire within minutes on Thursday morning.

Less than 24 hours later, the Highfields and District Junior Rugby League Club launched an appeal to help the family recover from the tragedy.

Club president Dan Aldons said the Murphys had long been involved in rugby league in Highfields and Toowoomba.
Their eldest sons Justin and Nathan are members of the Valleys club in Toowoomba, while Harry, 13, and Jack, 12, play for Highfields.

Mr and Mrs Murphy were also founding members of the Highfields club.

"They've been a big supporter of the Highfields juniors since day one and supporters of rugby league for many years," Mr Aldons said.

"It was only right we looked after them."

Family friend and club member Carolyn Cash has volunteered to co-ordinate the appeal.

Mrs Cash said the family was doing well despite the tragic week it had endured.

"They've got absolutely nothing left, but they're coping."

Mrs Cash said yesterday several businesses in Highfields and Toowoomba had already donated goods and services.

Those who want to donate to the Murphy family can contact Mrs Cash on 0488 698 399.

Goods and services will be accepted this weekend.

Mrs Cash said she hoped to have a bank account established from this Monday to accept cash donations.

The fire which engulfed the family's home, next door to their pub in Main St, Meringandan, was believed to have started accidentally in a child's bedroom about 7.30am.

Mr and Mrs Murphy's children Harry, 13, Jack, 12, and Bella Murphy, 9, as well as Jack's friend Matt Jones, 12, were in the house at the time.

"I had just left the house and come here (the pub) to do the orders," Mrs Murphy said.

Within three minutes Jack and his mate Matt were hammering on the back door of the pub, yelling about a fire in one of the bedrooms.

Matt said he and Jack had thrown water on the fire to stop it spreading from a bed but could not control it.

"We tried to put it out but after a couple of tries it got bigger," Matt said.

Mr Murphy, his son Justin and Mrs Murphy grabbed extinguishers from the pub and ran across to the house but the fire had spread too far.

"I couldn't see the flames because the smoke was so black.

"You read about fires but you just don't realise how quick they go up."

Harry and Bella were taken to Toowoomba Hospital suffering from minor smoke inhalation.

Tears welled in Mrs Murphy's eyes as she came to the realisation of what she had lost.

"I'm just numb.

"Everything, my whole life is in there. People say to grab your photos as you run out but you just can't.

"But at the end of the day the kids are all right."

Mr Murphy said he was devastated to have lost everything.

"I'm retirement age; I don't want to start again."

He said it would be business as usual at the pub.

"I guess we'll pitch a tent in the yard."

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service Highfields captain David Lethbridge said crews took about 45 minutes to contain the flames but could not save the house.

"The fire was typical of the older weatherboard houses," Mr Lethbridge said.

"They burn with great intensity."

Topics:  emergency services firefighters house fire meringandan toowoomba


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