HomeByron Bay fire: Mum shares new photos of twins after commune deaths

Byron Bay fire: Mum shares new photos of twins after commune deaths



A grieving mum has shared new pictures of twins Ophelia and Tarrow more than a week after they tragically died in a fire near Byron Bay.

Twins girls who tragically died after a fire broke out at a home near Byron Bay have been remembered by their mum in a sweet social media post.

Twins Ophelia and Tarrow died from smoke inhalation after a fire broke out in the room where they were sleeping at a “multi-occupancy commune” in Goonengerry on November 7.

NSW Ambulance paramedics attempted to perform CPR on the sisters but they were unable to be revived and were pronounced dead at the scene.

After news of the tragedy broke last week, Ophelia and Tarrow’s mum Akira Garton shared a heartbreaking post online saying “words cannot express” how devastated she was at the loss of her daughters.

Yesterday, Ms Garton shared another post to her Instagram page, showing photos of the twin girls playing dress up with her clothes.

“A penchant for silk slips, dress ups and Akubras. We miss you and you x2,” she wrote.

The grieving mum spoke out for the first time on Tuesday last week, thanking all the people that had reached out to her.

“Thank you for every thought, word, text, missed call and gesture. Words cannot express waking up to Day 3 of these beautiful bunnikins not here,” she wrote.

“No more mumma, no more hands, no more smiles, no more dancing, no more moments like this, happy, so happy – October 13 2021,” she said, referring to a photo of her with Ophelia and Tarrow.

“I’m devastated. It was too early. I never thought I’d use social media to communicate this.

I will try to respond when I can and have words beyond disbelief.”

It is understood Ophelia and Tarrow were spending the weekend with their father, James Wright, at the Nunkeri multi-occupancy commune where his girlfriend lives when the tragedy occurred.

Investigators believe the fatal fire may have been started by a candle left on top of a piano in the room where the girls were sleeping.

Police are investigating whether the candle may have caused the piano to smoulder and create plumes of toxic smoke.

The home where the girls were sleeping is among the 20 properties situated on the 20-home commune, which sits on 100 acres of farmland in the Byron Bay hinterland.

7News reported that a lawyer acting on behalf of Ms Garton, asked investigators to look into why Ophelia and Tarrow were unattended at the time of the fire.

There is no suggestion Mr Wright has done anything wrong.

“She wants to know why the children were not attended,” a friend told The Daily Telegraph. “She is strangely calm but yet heartbroken. She went to the commune yesterday and said she needed to see where her girls had died.”

Dad ‘inconsolable’ after tragedy

Mr Wright was reportedly “inconsolable” after the horrific incident, collapsing on the ground and screaming “no” when he returned home to find smoke billowing out of the girls’ bedroom, according to The Daily Telegraph.

“He was on the floor on his knees, he was crying ‘no no’, he was inconsolable,” a woman from the commune told the publication.

She said Mr Wright loved his daughters and “took them everywhere with him”.

The publication also revealed a woman placed a frantic call to emergency services on Sunday, telling the operator, “Hurry, the babies can’t breathe”.

Mr Wright is well-known in the area for his political activism, and ran as the Ballina candidate for the independent political party Keep Sydney Open in 2019.

Police Superintendent Dave Roptell wouldn’t confirm who first noticed the smoke and raised the alarm when asked last week about reports that a party had been going on nearby when the incident occurred.

“There were people present in a proximity to where the incident occurred,” he said.

“The people at the scene went in to check and saw what they saw and police were called.

“We’re making further inquiries into who actually identified the situation in the first instance.”

GoFundMe pages set up for grieving parents

Fundraisers have been set up for both Ms Garton and Mr Wright to help them through this difficult time.

Ms Garton’s father, Andrew Garton, shared a link to a GoFundMe page on Facebook after detailing his grief over his family’s “unimaginable loss”.

“My dear friends, you may have seen, read or heard news of the tragic, unimaginable loss of twin girls in Northern NSW this weekend past,” he wrote.

“They were my granddaughters Tarrow and Ophelia, I have never asked for much but today I ask that if you can, please help Akira, my daughter through this challenging time. There are two families grieving we need your strength and support,” he said

The fundraiser has raised over $113,000, with the organiser saying the family was blown away by everyone’s generosity.

In a message on the fundraiser, Mr Garton described the situation as “every mother’s worst nightmare”.

“Tarrow and Ophelia were bright, playful, identical twins that had a sparkle in their eyes and angelic features. They loved and adored their older sister Maitreya so so much … just as they were loved and adored by all close to them,” Mr Garton wrote.

“There is no word in English for a parent who loses their child, and there shouldn’t be. It is an unthinkable tragedy. Akira and her family are shattered to the core; they have an unbearable amount of grief to carry and heartbreaking pain to endure.”

The message described Ms Garton as a single mother with an “extraordinary amount of expenses ahead of her” and asked the community for help supporting her during this time.

The GoFundMe page said any money would allow her to be present for her seven-year-old daughter and would cover her loss of income while she is unable to run her business.

Another GoFundMe page was set up for Mr Wright by his father, Steven Wright.

He urged everyone to come together and “create a legacy of lasting love and support” for the grieving family, with the page raising more than $88,000.

“Aside from the onslaught of grief and sorrow, that is already devastating the family, there is an impending slew of debt, funeral costs, and day-to-day expenses that we hope to cover through this collection,” a message on the fundraising page said.

The page states Mr Wright “desperately needs financial support” during this time “so he might find the space to begin the healing process and continue supporting his surviving seven-year-old daughter”.




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