THE husband of a woman who died in a Cronulla house fire yelled ‘‘she’s in there’’ and had to be restrained by a neighbour when he tried to re-enter the burning building to rescue her.
Despite his attempts to save his wife, Narrelle Robbins, 54, died in the blaze on Redgum Avenue last Thursday.
Mrs Robbins was the wife of racing writer Glenn Robbins and was one of four people who died in house fires across Sydney and the Blue Mountains in four days.
The family of Mr Robbins told the Leader the pair had just returned from a Queensland holiday when the blaze broke out.
Kim Robbins described her sister-in-law as a ‘‘chestnut’’ who was a loyal mother, wife and friend, and said her family was in shock about losing the biggest ‘‘giver’’ they had known.
‘‘Narelle was known for her kindness and generosity to everyone, even those she did not know well,’’ Ms Robbins said.
‘‘Glenn said anyone who knew her would recognise her as a giver because she could not do enough for everyone.’’
She said the couple were married for 17 years and ran a business in the horse racing industry.
‘‘You could write a book about Rellie and what was so good about her,’’ she said.
Ms Robbins said her brother had been working in a home office upstairs when the fire broke out in the garage or nearby at about 5.30pm.
He was taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation and shock and released about 11pm.
Miranda police could not confirm Mrs Robbins’s death until the next afternoon as police, firefighters and forensic specialists examined the rubble in winds of up to 100km/h and rain.
Duty officer Inspector Mick Merrett said no one was allowed on the site to examine the house until late on Friday morning because it was structurally unsafe to enter.
The worst fears were confirmed at about 4pm on Friday when police announced that they had found the body of Mrs Robbins in a garage attached to the house.
Inspector Merrett said that there were no indications of how the fire had started because the damage had been so extensive.
‘‘Because of the circumstances it is under investigation and until we can rule everything out it will be treated as suspicious,’’ Inspector Merrett said.
‘‘This doesn’t mean anything untoward happened we just have to treat it as such until we find out the cause.’’
He said Fire and rescue NSW investigators and forensic specialists spent most of Friday and Saturday combing the scene for clues as to what happened.
‘‘They were doing a lot of sampling and we have to see what comes back from that which makes the investigation slow because they have to be methodical.’’
Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said four fatal fires in four days showed just how deadly winter could be.
‘‘Although investigators are yet to determine the cause of these fires, these deaths serve as a grim reminder for people to take action now to reduce their chances of becoming fire victims, ’’ Commissioner Mullins said.
He appealed for people to be careful and avoid leaving heaters, open fires and cooking unattended.
The family of a woman who died in a fire at Cronulla last week want to quell rumours police were called to a domestic dispute at the address earlier the same day.
The sister-in-law of Narrelle Robbins told the Leader the family was devastated by her death and was finding it difficult to deal with fabricated stories aired on television.
‘‘Obviously, the family is going through a time of tremendous grief, and the imputation that arises from these incorrect reports has caused the family further great distress,’’ Ms Robbins said.
She said police had gone to a neighbouring house after the owners found their chickens killed by a dog or fox.
Miranda police said they were called to a neighbouring property regarding an animal complaint, and not any sort of domestic dispute.
‘‘It is certainly misinformation that would be causing [the family] some grief,’’ Inspector Merrett said.