Rats spark fire, dog raises alarm but 40 snakes die

DISTRAUGHT: Norman Hill with fiancee Sally Acai and one of their daughters speak to reporters outside their fire damaged property in Goodna.
DISTRAUGHT: Norman Hill with fiancee Sally Acai and one of their daughters speak to reporters outside their fire damaged property in Goodna. Claudia Baxter

LATEST: A young family of eight is mourning the loss of 40 pet snakes after fire gutted their home.

Fire crews were called to the Queen St property in Goodna about 9am on Friday to find the single-level brick dwelling well alight.

Durack Fire Station Officer Gary Devitt said the fire started in a double garage after rats were believed to have chewed through wires powering heat lamps in the family's python enclosures.

Neighbour Ty Currie said his 12-year-old pomeranian Smokey (both pictured left) alerted him to the fire. He said he tried to help douse the fire with a garden hose before crews arrived, but it was too late.

"Our little dog was barking at the fence and I saw the smoke coming from above the house," he said. "The flames were metres above the roof...but the front of the house was already gone before the firies arrived."

Norman Hill and Sally Acai were home with two of their six children, as well as Ms Acai's mother and brother, when the fire broke out. They escaped unharmed.

Senior Sergeant Gareth James said the fire was not suspicious.

The couple had only moved in with their six children, aged 11 months, 2, 6, 8, 10 and 12, four months ago. They had planned to hold their wedding reception in their backyard next Saturday, but have been told their first home together is no longer liveable.

Mr Devitt said crews from Durack, Mt Ommaney and Bundamba contained the fire in the garage and front bedroom, which were extensively damaged. The lounge room and kitchen sustained significant water and smoke damage. Flower-girl dresses and wedding bouquets were also destroyed.

"We were coming back from the school run and I said to Norman 'Something is burning'," Ms Acai said.

"We've looked around and the double garage was on fire. We got the kids, mum and my brother out - they're up from Sydney because we are getting married next week."

A 100m exclusion zone was enforced due to the close range of two major gas bottles to the blaze and another cylinder located inside the garage.

It is understood 40 pet snakes, including two rare albino pythons, perished in the fire.

"They did have a number of snakes inside," Mr Devitt said. "We managed to capture some, the rest we are trying to find now."

But Mr Hill said only one had been retrieved and it was not expected to survive.

Despite their loss the couple hoped their wedding could still go ahead.

"We want it too, I can't wait to marry her," Mr Hill said.

Cr Paul Tully said the Mayor's Community Fund would make a donation to the family early next week.

"We are putting a call-out for people to assist with catering because family members have already arrived from interstate for the couple's wedding," he said.

"We want to make sure their wedding goes ahead."

Cr Tully said offers of furniture, electrical goods and toy donations had already started to flow in for the family. To make a donation phone Cr Tully's office on 3818 6900.

12PM: The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service responded to a house fire on Queen Street, Goodna around 9am.

Crews arrived to find the single-level dwelling well alight. The fire was contained to the garage and lounge room area, which has been extensively fire damaged. The rest of the home was extensively water and smoke damaged.

The occupants were not home at the time and no one was injured. Fire investigators will work to determine the cause of the blaze.

The QFRS can confirm there is no exclusion zone in place and no nearby areas have been evacuated. However, Queen Street has been closed to traffic and pedestrians.

10AM: Fire crews are battling a house blaze in Queen St, Goodna.

Police have set up a 100m exclusion zone, moving residents and onlookers back to the intersection with Eric St.

Emergency services are concerned there may be gas bottles on the property.

More to follow.

Topics:  editors picks goodna house fire

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