Neighbours have recalled hearing the haunting screams of the teenage boy who was killed in a house fire at a friend’s home in southwest Sydney on Wednesday morning.
Tahma Jones, 14, was sleeping over at the house in Macquarie Fields when the property went up in flames during the early hours.
Earlier, on Tuesday night there had been a brawl outside the house and police were investigating whether there was any link between that and the fire.
A mother and her five children managed to escape the inferno as it ripped through the Montana Way home, but Tahma, who had snuck out of his grandmother’s house to visit his friend, remained trapped on the top floor.
One man, who lives in the neighbourhood, said he heard screaming and crying ringing down the street as the residents begged for help rescuing the boy.
Tahma Jones, 14, tragically died when his friend’s Macquarie Fields home went up in flames during the early hours of Wednesday morning
‘People were screaming: ‘There is somebody in there! There is somebody in there!”,’ he told 9News.
Neighbour Brianna said it was terrifying watching the tragedy unfold.
‘It was scary. They were all crying and scared for their friend,’ she said.
Fire chiefs were also trawling through the ashen remains to see if there was any trace of accelerant having been used to start the fire.
‘Investigations are continuing,’ said a NSW Fire and Rescue spokesman.
Devastated family and friends broke down in tears outside the charred home on Wednesday after learning of the teenager’s death.
‘He was the most respectful, beautiful boy, he always looked out for my son,’ Gloria, whose son was friends with Tahma, told the Daily Telegraph.
‘A lot of people in Macquarie Fields knew him, he was a gentle soul … I’m so shocked and heartbroken.’
The 14-year-old boy died but a mother and her five children managed to escape the inferno as it ripped through the Montana Way home (pictured) in Macquarie Fields in Sydney’s south-west
Friend Courtney Webb said he had the ‘brightest spirit’ and she is finding it difficult to come to terms with the news.
‘He was the most loving sweet, kind-hearted person. I’m so shocked this happened to him,’ she said.
Tahma is believed to have become trapped in the second floor bedroom when the heat and flames cut off an escape path.
‘We had a very, very intense fire with flames coming out of the windows several metres,’ Fire and Rescue Deputy Commissioner Jeremy Fewtrell said at the scene.
‘Being upstairs would have been very unpleasant.’
Firefighters attempted to enter the house, but the smoke and intensity of the blaze were too strong for them to get past the front door.
Crews fought the blaze from outside and were able to enter once the blaze was brought under control.
The home was declared a crime scene, as officers from Campbelltown City Police Area Command launched their investigation into the fire.
Emergency services raced to the scene, but the house had already been gutted by flames
Any connection between the fight and the fire will be part of the probe.
Campbelltown City Commander Superintendent Julian Griffiths added: ‘It is being made aware to the investigators and will be encompassed into the scope of the investigation.’
Neighbours also revealed how they woke to terrifying screams as the fire took hold in the middle of the night.
‘I was in bed, I heard a lot of screaming and yelling, looked out the door and the house was on fire. My neighbour was screaming, “Get the kids out, get the kids out”‘,’ one local said.
The mother and children who escaped were woken up and alerted to the fire by a smoke alarm, said Deputy Commissioner Fewtrell.
He added: ‘One of the best defences people have in a fire is a working smoke alarm.’
Detectives are investigating if there is any connection between an earlier street fight and the deadly blaze which erupted at 1.35am on Wednesday. Seen here is the street where the fire erupted