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FIRE TRAGEDY

FIRE TRAGEDY

‘NO SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES’ RULING BY POLICE IN TODMAN STREET

CATASTROPHIC BLAZE

Queensland Police have stated there are ‘no suspicious circumstances’ in relation to the Russell

Island catastrophic fire that killed a father and his five sons.

The official announcement by police came five days after the Sunday, August 6, blaze that has

captured attention and has thrust Russell Island into national news cycle.

Wayne Godinet died whilst trying to save his five sons Zac 11, Harry 10, twins Kyza and Koah 4,

and Nicky 3.

Mother, Samantha, and her sister, Connie Campbell, were fortunate to escape the horrific blaze

that was so powerful that it ignited two neighbouring properties. completely destroying the next

door home in Todman Street.

This home was occupied by the Schinkel family, Reina and Greg, and their two children.

The home at the rear, fronting Gunsynd Street, was also badly damaged, but was ‘saved’ by

quick thinking Russell Island Volunteer firemen who were the first responders on the scene.

(The homes in this section of Russell Island are named after Melbourne Cup winning horses -

Ed)

This home was occupied by Matthew Howell and his two young relatives Lucia Teague and Sei

Sinclair.

Despite stating the fire was not intentionally lit, investigators have not been able, as yet, to

determine the cause of the blaze.

The police statement said: ‘An extensive report will be prepared for the coroner now that the

post-mortem examinations have been completed.

“Officers would like to thank the community for their ongoing support following this tragedy.”

One of the two survivors of the fire, mother Samantha Stevenson, has been in a very poor state

since the blaze, but via her family, has stated: “ I thank all for the ‘love and support’; that has

been offered by so many.

The fire started at around 6am. A thick pall of black smoke was seen rising above the island in a

threatening sign of what was to come.

Mother and father of the children, Samantha Stephenson and Wayne Godinet, made it quickly

out to the front of the home.

With no sign of any of the children, Wayne Godinet immediately ran back into the home to try

and save his sons.

Samantha’s sister, Connie Campbell, was trapped inside and became disorientated, and

eventually made her way to the balcony on the first floor.

She observed that the fire was bad ‘under my feet’ and believed that the fire had started on the

ground floor.

Samantha screamed at her sister to jump to safety, which she did, then crawled to safety.

Samantha called close family friend Peter MacLoughlin and her mother, Rebecca, for help.

Emergency services were actually called by nearby Bernborough Street resident Kylie Purtell.

The emerging ‘heroes’ in this saga, the Russell Island Volunteer Fire Brigade, arrived about 7

minutes later and immediately observed that the blaze was ‘massive’ and that saving the family

home was impossible and the next door Schinkel home was also in a bad way.

The fire fighters recognised efforts should be made to save the rear Howell home.

By this time, the first floor of the family tragedy home had already collapsed.

In the Schinkel home the family were woken and removed from the premises by quick-thinking

island ambulance first responders.

In the rear Howell home, young residents Lucia Teague and Sei Sinclair were woken by their

uncle and property resident Matthew Howell.

All they could see was a ‘wall of fire’ beyond the back deck and the verandah was on fire.

Lucia was hurt when she stumbled getting down the stairs to safety.

Sei Sinclair said it was panic that set in first followed by ‘getting out of the house’.

Neighbours had come from near and far with some trying to help with garden hoses.


In the meantime, fire, police and ambulance teams were on the way to the island from Redland

Bay.

By the time they arrived at 7.30 am to take over, the Russell Island Brigade had the blaze

mostly under control, saving the rear Howell home from complete destruction.

No 5 Todman Street, where the blaze had started, was so completely gutted, that all that was

really left was mostly roofing iron.

Next door 3 Todman Street had collapsed and has been completely destroyed.

The Gunsynd Street home has been seriously damaged at the rear and internally and will need

extensive repairs.

Altogether nine islanders were taken to hospital for small injuries. They were released the next

day.

The entire area was cordoned off and turned into an investigation scene. Police set up a major

task force for investigation based in Cleveland.

The Schinkel and Howell families have been assisted and efforts are being made to find

alternative accommodation.



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