Mum of Five Children Killed in Russell Island Fire Issues Heartbreaking Message

On Sunday morning, Samantha Stephenson, 28, watched her family’s rental home go up in flames with her five children and her partner inside.

The horror house fire occured on Queensland’s Russell Island and has left Samantha mourning the loss of her five boys, aged three to 11, as well as her partner, Wayne Godinet, 34.

Russell Island fire
Wayne and Samantha with their twins. Source: 9News

Russell Island fire tragedy

Samantha and a 21-year-old relative, thought to be her sister, were the only two survivors. Trapped inside were Wayne, four-year-old twins Kyza and Koa, three-year-old Nicky and Zack, 11, and Harry, 10.

The Russell Island fire started in the early morning on Sunday 7 August with police confirming that six bodies were found in the wreckage on Sunday afternoon.

Samantha has issued a heartbreaking message to every Australian through her friend, Lilly Salter.

“Samantha just wants the world to know – check your smoke alarms and hold your babies” Lilly told The Daily Mail.

Building collapsed with five children inside 

While exact details have not been confirmed, what we do know is that the fire started sometime early Sunday morning with Wayne sleeping downstairs and the rest of the family upstairs.

Once Samantha realised the house was on fire, she raced out of the house with a relative before rushing back in to save her children. However, Wayne stopped her and ran to save the children instead.

Samantha watched in horror as the home was engulfed by flames and the second story collapsed with all six family members inside.

A family friend, Peter MacLoughlin drove over to try and help.

“Sam came running out of the house. She was just screaming ‘My children, my children,’ I can never forgot that,” he told The Courier-Mail.

Lost her entire family

Queensland Police Service Superintendent Mat Kelly said the scene was confronting.

“The house has been burnt to the ground,” Kelly told media. “These young boys who could have been men in the future and a man has lost his life. We are still speaking with this poor lady who has lost her entire family.”

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Assistant Commissioner John Cawcutt said the blaze was “obviously one of the worst fires we have had in a long time”.

Russell Island house fire
Source: Facebook

Commissioner Greg Leach said it could take days to work out what happened.

“The building is extensively damaged; it could take quite some time, even days to determine the point of origin of the fire and the cause,” Leach said.

Tributes flow 

The tragic fire has left the entire Russel Island community shocked and devastated. The two older boys, Harry and Zach, attended the local school and a friend of Samantha’s has started a GoFundMe account to help the heartbroken mum put her family to rest.

Russell Island fire
Source: GoFundMe

Tributes have flowed in for Wayne and the five children with members of the community speaking highly of the doting father. Relative Emma-Lee Headrick took to social media on Monday to mourn the loss of Wayne and her “beautiful” nephews.

“I stayed awake, mourning the loss of 6 beautiful souls. Waynie boy and my nephews,” Ms Headrick said.We have suffered a great loss. I find comfort in knowing you rest peacefully in the arms of the Lord. With Grumpy and Nicky. To my whanau in Queensland, I feel your pain and aroha. I’ll be there soon.”

Local taxi driver Angela Dowson told the Courier Mail that Wayne was a very loving father.

“He would have done everything in his power to get those kids out, so obviously it was impossible. I have never met a more doting father who just wanted to spend time with his kids. He would be absolutely buggered after work and he just wanted to play with them.”

What caused the fire? 

It is unknown what caused the fire or whether or not the fire is suspicious. Police have confirmed that some elements “require “closer scrutiny”.

It has also been revealed that the police have been called to the residence in the past.

Police have established a 25-person crime centre to manage investigations into the horrific fire. They have also cautioned people against posting inflammatory theories on social media, but urged anybody with information to contact police.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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