HomeByron Bay fire: Twins who died in Goonengerry blaze identified

Byron Bay fire: Twins who died in Goonengerry blaze identified

The twin four-year-old girls who died in a horrific house fire near Byron Bay have been identified, as investigators try to determine what happened.

The twin four-year-old girls who died following a house fire near Byron Bay on Sunday have been pictured for the first time, as flowers pile up outside the home where the tragedy occurred.

Ophelia and Tarrow were killed after a fire broke out in their bedroom in the early hours of the morning at a property in Goonengerry.

Emergency services were called to the property just after 4am on Sunday, following reports two children were suffering from smoke inhalation.

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

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.

The 20-home commune is situated on 100 acres of farmland and was established in the Byron Bay hinterland more than 30 years ago.

Reports suggest Mr Wright and his partner may have been at a bonfire on the commune and returned to the home to find smoke billowing out of the bedroom.

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.

7News reports that a lawyer acting on behalf of the twins’ mother, Akira 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 said the piano – which is believed to have caught fire from a candle – was in the same room as the two girls and was “fairly close” to where they were sleeping.

“It’s unbelievably devastating (for the community). It’s a tragic set of circumstances,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“The police that turned up and the other emergency services who were there did an exceptional job and did try their best to save those poor young people’s lives.”

Superintendent Roptell wouldn’t confirm who first noticed the smoke and raised the alarm when asked 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.”

Community rallies behind family

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with the Ophelia and Tarrow’s funeral costs.

Mullumbimby resident, Steve Wright, set up the fundraiser on Monday, which has now received more than $20,000 in donations.

“Early on Sunday morning November the 7th our dear Jimmi lost his darling girls, Ophelia and Tarrow to a tragic house fire. These beautiful little fairies left this earth too soon, and the loss for Jimmi and family is unspeakable,” the page reads.

“It is now for us, his friends and family, to come together and create a legacy of lasting love and support.

“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.”

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 7-year-old daughter”.

Community members have also been leaving floral tributes at the property, with a note on one of the bouquets left in the mailbox of the home reading, “No words … mourning with you”.

Investigations into the tragic incident are continuing, with detectives from the Tweed/Byron PD working with fire investigators.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.


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