A Chilean refugee who died in a Thornlie house fire along with his great-grandson lived for the energetic four-year-old who he raised with his wife like a son, their heart-broken family revealed yesterday.
Hugo Alaniz, 69, and toddler Tyhreese died in hospital after firefighters pulled them unresponsive from the family’s smoke-filled Rushbrook Way home about 6.15pm on Wednesday.
Investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire but believe it started in the middle of the lounge room.
Mr Alaniz and the boy were found laying in the hallway and carried outside where desperate attempts to save them continued for more than 30 minutes.
It is understood Mr Alaniz was revived but died in hospital. Tyhreese was resuscitated but died yesterday at Perth Children’s Hospital.
Mr Alaniz’s son, Raul, said the tragedy had left the family feeling numb. He said they had come to Australia from Chile in 1985 as refugees and built a life for themselves.
“Everything is a bit of a blur at the moment,” he said.
“We are still trying to piece together what has happened. It’s a huge tragedy. We have just got to take care of mum, that’s our main focus at the moment.”
Raul Alaniz said his father loved Australia for the opportunities it had provided his family.
“We came here with nothing and we made it,” he said.
“Tyhreese came to mum and dad when he was only two-weeks-old. He is the son to my sister’s daughter.
“They have taken him on and brought him up. I guess he was the reason why they got up every morning.”
Raul Alaniz said Tyhreese was a typical four-year-old who loved motorbikes and flexing his muscles in front of his family.
“He just turned four last week and his first motorbike he got he crashed it on the first ride,” he said.
“He loved life. Like any four-year-old he would run amok and hide and carry-on.”
Tyhreese’s family hope his organs can be donated so that he can “live though someone else”.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services fire investigation officer Mark Hayes said the tragedy was a reminder for people to check their smoke detectors.
“As part of our investigation we uncovered that the home did have a smoke detector but unfortunately it was not working,” he said.
“It was not a hard-wired smoke detector and there was no battery in it. Smoke detectors save lives.”
Mr Hayes said thick smoke had filled the property because a window roller-shutter had prevented the fumes escaping.
Neighbour Sean Dash witnessed desperate efforts to save the pair.
“I saw firefighters go inside, kick the roller shutter out of the window and then a few minutes later carry the boy, followed by the man, outside the house and start working on them,” he said.