Grandfather Dies After Saving Granddaughter From House Fire
A grandfather has died trying to flee a Melbourne house fire with his family.
Gary Van Bree, 71, was found dead inside the Endeavour Hills home after the blaze broke out shortly before 10pm on Saturday.
He died trying to escape with his daughter Natalie, and her two children, four-year-old Wyatt and Kristina, seven, neighbour Sophea Mutsaers says.
"The kids were in bed. They didn't have any working smoke alarms in the house and Natalie got up, she smelt smoke," Ms Mutsaers told AAP.
"(Gary) was still in the house and everyone presumed that he was on his way out and he never got out.
"He made sure Kristina got out and Kristina thought he was behind her but he must have succumbed to the smoke.
"He was yelling at Kristina to get out of the house ...she went back for him and he told her to get out."
The flames were about 20m high and the blaze is thought to have started in the fireplace, Ms Mutsaers said.
A crowdfunding campaign has been set up to support Mr Van Bree's shattered family, left with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
"It's just devastating, you don't expect it to happen in your own neighbourhood," Ms Mutsaers said.
"I've pretty much told (Natalie) we'll take care of the funeral cost. I'm hoping the community will get behind us."
Kristina was taken to Dandenong Hospital for an assessment but has since been discharged.
The cause of the blaze is being investigated.